MORE FREE RESOURCES ON WHY CHRIST CONDEMNS CHRISTMAS, based on the second commandment (or what is sometimes called the regulative principle of worship), are at


by Brian Schwertley

swrb-puritan-hard-drivePuritan Hard Drive



The Regulative Principle of Worship
The Regulative Principle of Scripture - Sola Scriptura
The Regulative Principle of Worship

The Circumstances of Worship
The Unacceptable Offering
Strange Fire
David and His Men's Error
Autonomous Worship Condemned
Vain Worship
Other Examples
Why the Regulative Principle is Necessary

Christmas is a Monument to Past and Present Idolatry
Christmas Dishonors Christ's Day
Christmas is a Lie
The World Loves Christmas
Don't Be Fooled
Common Reasons Given by Christians for Celebrating Christmas


Historical Appendix

The latest (updated) version of this free book is available at THE REGULATIVE PRINCIPLE OF WORSHIP AND CHRISTMAS by Brain Scwertley.


The Puritan/Presbyterian wing of the Reformation accomplished a purity 
in worship not seen since the apostolic church. This purity was attained 
by making the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments the only infallible 
standard and authority in determining worship ordinances. Any ordinances 
solely based on church tradition or man's authority were discarded. 
However, this purity attained by our spiritual forefathers has, with 
the passage of time, been cast aside. Pragmatism, tradition and human 
opinion are exalted in determining how God's people are to worship 
Him. The attitude among many in church leadership positions is to 
give the people what they want, rather than to submit to God's divine 

The purpose of this booklet is to show that God does not leave it 
up to man to make up his own rules regarding worship. Christians are 
to learn and submit to what God says in this area. The first part 
of this booklet discusses the "regulative principle" of Scripture 
and worship. God has set down in Scripture how He is to be worshipped. 
Man is not to add to or detract from what God says. The second part 
of the booklet examines the keeping of Christmas. Christmas is a good 
example of how many people violate this regulative principle of worship. 
It is celebrated almost universally, even by those who claim to adhere 
to the regulative principle.


The Regulative Principle

The Regulative Principle of Scripture - Sola Scriptura

Because of man's sinful nature, God's covenant people often stray 
from the truth. Men often pervert true religion by eliminating elements 
in it they find unpleasant. They also pervert it by adding their own 
ideas to it. This very tendency to corrupt true religion, by addition 
or subtraction, is why God warned Israel not to add to or subtract 
from His Word. "Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes 
and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye 
may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your 
fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command 
you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the 
commandments of the LORD your God which I command you" (Deut. 

This passage of Scripture, and others like it, forms the basis for 
the Protestant reformers' doctrine of sola Scriptura. That is to say, 
the Bible alone is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. 
"The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own 
glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, 
or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: 
unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations 
of the Spirit, or traditions of men . . . and that there are some 
circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, 
common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light 
of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, 
which are always to be observed."1 Therefore, everything that man does is to 
be based on either the explicit commands of Scripture, deduced by good and 
necessary consequence (e.g., historical example,2 implication, etc.) 
or, if circumstantial, to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, 
according to the general rules of the Word (e.g., time or place to meet, etc.). 
Moses' command in Deuteronomy 4:2 is God's regulative principle, in a broad 
sense. Man's ultimate authority and blueprint for life is revealed in the Bible.

The Regulative Principle of Worship

The Bible is our only infallible rule for faith and practice. There 
is no area of life where this truth is more applicable than in the 
area of worship. Before entering the promised land, God told the Israelites 
how to avoid idolatry and syncretism (i.e., blending or mixing) with 
pagan worship. "Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by 
following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and 
that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations 
serve their gods? even so I will do likewise. Thou shalt not do so 
unto the LORD thy God. . . . What thing soever I command you, 
observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" 
(Deut. 12:30-32).

Whatever is not commanded by Scripture in the worship of God is forbidden. 
Anything that the church does in worship must have warrant from an 
explicit command of God, be deduced by good and necessary consequence, 
or be derived from approved historical example (e.g., the change of 
day from seventh to first for Lord's day corporate worship). "As 
under the Old Dispensation nothing connected with the worship or discipline 
of the Church of God was left to the wisdom or discretion of man, 
but everything was accurately prescribed by the authority of God, 
so, under the New, no voice is to be heard in the household of faith 
but the voice of the Son of God. The power of the church is purely 
ministerial and declarative. She is only to hold forth the doctrine, 
enforce the laws, and execute the government which Christ has given 
her. She is to add nothing of her own to, and to subtract nothing 
from, what her Lord has established. Discretionary power she does 
not possess."3 

The view commonly held among Protestant churches today is that anything 
is permitted in worship, provided it is not explicitly forbidden in 
the Bible. This was, and is, the accepted view among Episcopalian 
and Lutheran churches. The early Reformed and Presbyterian churches 
rejected this view as unscriptural. The Westminster Confession of 
Faith says, "the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is 
instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that 
He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices 
of men. . . or any other way not prescribed in the holy 
Scripture."4 What is today called the regulative principle 
of worship is not something John Calvin or John Knox invented but 
is simply a divine imperative. It is a crucial aspect of God's law. 
"We say that the command to add nothing is an organic part of 
the whole law, as law, and, therefore, that every human addition to 
the worship of God, even if it be not contrary to any particular command, 
is yet contrary to the general command that nothing be added."5

The Circumstances of Worship

In order to understand the regulative principle of worship properly, 
one must understand the difference between worship ordinances and 
the circumstances, or incidentals, of worship. Worship ordinances 
are those things and activities received from divine revelation. Every 
worship ordinance is appointed by God. Anything connected to worship 
that has a religious and moral significance has to be based on divine 
command (explicit or implicit) or approved historical example. The 
church receives all worship ordinances from God as revealed in the 
Bible. The church must obey all of God's ordinances. The church does 
not have the authority to add to or detract from those things God 
has appointed.

The circumstances of worship refer not to worship content and ceremony 
but to those things "common to human actions and societies." 
The only way someone can learn a worship ordinance is 
to study the Bible and see what God commands. But the circumstances 
of worship are not dependent on the explicit instructions 
of the Bible; they depend only upon general revelation and common 
sense ("Christian prudence"). Believers and unbelievers alike 
know that shelter and heat are useful to conduct a meeting in January, 
in Minnesota. They understand the desirability of chairs, lighting, 
clothing, and so on. It is understood that a time must be chosen in 
advance in order to conduct a meeting. There are many things common 
to both religious and civil (or secular) meetings that are not dependent 
on specific biblical instructions. These things are the circumstances, 
or incidentals, of worship.

Worship Ordinances 6 vs.

Worship Circumstances





Preaching from the Bible

Matt. 26:13; Mk. 16:15; Acts 9:20; 2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 20:8, 17:10; 1 Cor. 14:28

Structure in which the church meets

Acts 20:8, 17:10; 1 Cor. 14:28 

Reading the Word of God

Mk. 4:16-20; Acts 13:15; 1 Tim. 4:13; Rev. 1:13; Acts 1:13, 16:13; 1 Cor. 11:20

Location at which the church meets

Acts 1:13, 16:13; 1 Cor. 11:20 

Meeting on the Lord's day

Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:18

Time at which the church meets

Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:18 

Administration of sacraments

Matt. 28:19; Matt. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 11:24-25

Clothing worn to worship

1 Cor. 11:13-15; Deut. 22:5 

Hearing the Word of God

Lu. 2:46; Acts 8:31; Rom. 10:41; Jas. 1:22; Lu. 4:20; Acts 20:9

Type of seating provided

Luke 4:20; Acts 20:9 

Prayer to God

Matt. 6:9; 1 Thess. 5:17; Heb. 13:18; Phil. 4:6; Jas. 1:5; 1 Cor. 11:13-15; Deut. 22:5



The singing of Psalms

1 Chron. 16:9; Ps. 95:1-2; Ps. 105:2; 1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16



Note that everything in the left column must be learned from the Word 
of God. Everything in the right column is a circumstance common to 
everyone who lives in God's universe. Worship ordinances are limited 
in number by divine revelation. Worship circumstances are virtually 
infinite in number, being based on the common agreement of men guided 
by "Christian prudence." Because man is created in the image 
of God and must live and function in God's created reality (the universe), 
he must live and function in accordance with that reality. People 
do not need explicit instructions from the Bible to know to put on 
a jacket when it is five degrees outside. But men do need clear instructions 
from the Bible on how to approach the infinitely holy God.

The regulative principle of worship is taught throughout the Bible. 
What follows is an examination of the many passages in Scripture which 
prove that whatever is not commanded in Scripture in 
the worship of God is forbidden. Worship ordinances must be based 
specifically on what God says, not on human opinion or tradition.

The Unacceptable Offering

"And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of 
the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also 
brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And 
the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain 
and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and 
his countenance fell" (Gen. 4:3-5).

What was it regarding Cain's offering that made it unacceptable before 
God? The preference for Abel's offering and the rejection of Cain's 
was not arbitrary, but based upon past revelation given to Adam and 
his family. Evidently, God revealed this information to Adam when 
He killed animals to make coverings for Adam and his wife (Gen. 3:21). 
Generations later, Noah knew that God would only accept clean animals 
and birds as burnt offerings to the Lord (Gen. 8:20). Cain, unlike 
his brother Abel, decided, apart from God's Word, that an offering 
of the fruit of the ground would be acceptable before the Lord. But 
God rejected Cain's offering, because it was a creation of his mind. 
God did not command it; therefore, even if Cain was sincere in his 
desire to please God, God still would have rejected his offering.

God expects faith and obedience to His Word. If God's people can worship 
the Lord according to their own will, as long as the man-made ordinances 
are not expressly forbidden, then could not Cain, Noah or the Levites 
offer God a fruit salad or a bucket of turnips, for it is nowhere 
forbidden? And if God wanted a strict regulation of His worship apart 
from the regulative principle, would it not require hundreds (or perhaps 
thousands) of volumes telling us what is forbidden? But God, in His 
infinite wisdom, says, "What thing soever I command you, observe 
to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Deut. 

Strange Fire

"And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his 
censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered 
strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. 
And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they 
died before the Lord" (Lev. 10:1,2).

"What was their sin? Their sin was offering of strange 
fire, so the text saith that they offered strange fire, 
which God commanded them not. . . . But had God ever forbidden 
it? Where do we find that ever God had forbidden them to offer strange 
fire, or appointed that they should offer only one kind of fire? There 
is no text of Scripture that you can find from the beginning of Genesis 
to this place, where God hath said in terminus, in so 
many words expressly, You shall offer no fire but one kind of 
fire. And yet here they are consumed by fire from God, for 
offering 'strange fire.' "7

Those who reject God's regulative principle of worship have a real 
problem explaining this text. Some argue that Nadab and Abihu were 
condemned because they offered strange incense, for offering strange 
incense is expressly condemned in Exodus 30:9. But the text does not 
say "strange incense", it says "strange fire". Others 
argue that they must have been insincere or drunk. But what does the 
Holy Spirit give us as the reason for their judgment? They offered 
strange fire "which he commanded them not." When 
it comes to worshipping God, there must be a warrant out of God's 
Word. "All things in God's worship must have a warrant out of 
God's word, [and] must be commanded. It's not enough that it is not 
forbidden. . . . Now when man shall put a Religious respect 
upon a thing, by vertue [sic] of his own Institution when he hath not a 
warrant from God; Here's superstition! we must all be willing worshipers, 
but not Wil-worshipers [sic]."8

David and His Men's Error

"And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out 
of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the 
sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. And they brought it out of the 
house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: 

and Ahio went before the ark. . . . And when they came to Nachon's 
threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took 
hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled 
against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he 
died by the ark of God" (2 Sam. 6:3-7).

David and the men involved in moving the ark were, without question, 
sincere in their desire to please God by moving the ark to Jerusalem. 
Yet, the result of this sincere effort was the judgment of God. Uzzah 
put out his hand to protect the ark from falling, because he loved 
God and cared about God's ark. Yet, despite all the sincerity and 
good intentions, God's anger was aroused, and He killed Uzzah. Why? 
Because the whole affair was highly offensive to God. Uzzah's touching 
of the ark was the capstone of the day's offenses.

Those who object to the regulative principle make much of the fact 
that Uzzah was killed for something clearly forbidden in God's law 
(i.e., touching the ark). Yes, it is true that Uzzah died violating 
an explicit prohibition of the law (Num. 4:15). But, king David's 
analysis of what went wrong that day includes everyone involved, not 
just Uzzah. "For because ye [the Levites] did it not at the first, 
the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him 
not after the due order. So the priests and the Levites sanctified 
themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. And the 
children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with 
the staves [i.e., poles] thereon, as Moses commanded according 
to the word of the Lord" (1 Chron. 15:13-15).

When God gives a command that the Levites are to carry the ark with 
poles (Num. 4:6,15), it is not necessary for God to forbid men of 
Judah from using an ox cart. King David and his men should have consulted 
the law of Moses and obeyed it. Instead, they acted pragmatically. 
They imitated the Philistines, who used a new cart when they sent 
the ark back to Bethshemesh. When it comes to the worship of God, 
we are not permitted to improvise, even if our intentions are good. 
Sincerity is important, but sincerity must be in accord with divine 
revelation. Even in religious matters that may seem small or trivial 
to us, God commands that we act in accordance with His revealed will 
and not innovate according to our will. "The great lesson for 
all time is to beware of following our own devices in the worship 
of God when we have clear instructions in His word how we are to 
worship Him."9 

Autonomous Worship Condemned

"And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the 
valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters 
in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into 
my heart" (Jer. 7:31; see also, Jer. 19:5).

The Lord condemns the children of Judah's idolatry and pagan worship 
with the statement, "which I commanded them not, neither came 
it into my heart." Idolatry, murder and child sacrifice are explicitly 
condemned in the law and the prophets. Yet, Jeremiah cuts to the essence 
of idolatrous worship. Judah was worshipping in a manner that did 
not originate from God's heart. Judah's worship was not founded upon 
God's command. Rather than worshipping God according to His command, 
they "walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil 
heart, and went backward, and not forward" (Jer. 7:24). If the 
people of Judah had consulted the Word of God and obeyed it, they 
would have been spared God's fury. "We have to do with a God who 
is very jealous; who will be worshipped as He wills, or not at all. 
Nor can we complain. If God be such a Being as we are taught in the 
Holy Scripture, it must be His inalienable right to determine and 
prescribe how He will be served."10 

Vain Worship

"Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, 
saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? 
for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered 
and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God 
by your tradition?" (Matt. 15:1-3).

The Pharisees were the respected religious leaders of the Jewish people. 
They believed that they had the liberty to add to the commandments 
of God. The law of God did contain various ceremonial washings to 
signify the unclean becoming clean. The Pharisees simply added other 
washings to emphasize and "perfect" the law of Moses. There 
is no express commandment forbidding these ceremonial additions, except 
the regulative principle (e.g., Deut. 4:2; 12:31). These additions 
have no warrant from the Word of God.

Jesus Christ is the champion of the regulative principle. He strongly 
rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for adding to God's law. What happens 
when sinful men add rules and regulations to God's law? Eventually 
man-made tradition replaces or sets aside God's law. "Thus have 
ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition" 
(Matt. 15:6). The ancient Christian church added its own rules and 
ceremonies to the worship of God and degenerated into the pagan and 
idolatrous Roman Catholic Church. If we do not draw the line regarding 
worship where God draws the line, then, as history proves, the church 
will eventually degenerate into little better than a bizarre pagan 
cult. Christ's rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees applies today to 
practically every (so called) branch of the Christian church. "This 
people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with 
their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they 
do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" 
(Matt. 15:8-9).

Other Examples

The idea that only what God commands in His word is permitted in worship 
is taught throughout the Bible. There is king Saul who offered sacrifice 
before the Lord without divine authorization. God commanded the priests, 
not kings, to offer burnt offerings. The kingship was taken from Saul 
and his family forever (1 Sam. 13:8-14). Consider king Jeroboam who 
ordained his own feast day, his own holy places and his own offerings 
"in the month which he had devised of his own heart" (1 Ki. 12:32-33). 
King Jeroboam was a pragmatist. He did not see any 
need to follow the express commands of God in worship. And his unauthorized, 
autonomous worship, and the idolatry associated with it, is presented 
in the book of Kings as the very paradigm of false worship. If it 
is wicked for Jeroboam, a king, to make up his own feast day (holy 
day), then certainly it is wicked for popes, bishops and the people 
to set up Christmas, Good Friday, and so on.

Paul, in his epistle to the Colossians, concurs with the Old Testament's 
teaching on worship. Paul condemns those who seek to impose Judaical 
food laws and holy days upon the church (Col. 2:16). Because the ceremonials 
laws were "shadows" that pointed to the "substance"--Jesus 
Christ--they are done away with. They are no longer authorized 
and therefore are forbidden. Paul's warning regarding human philosophy 
is the backdrop of his condemnation of false worship and man-made 
laws (legalism): "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy 
and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the 
rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:8).

Paul condemns manmade doctrines and commandments: "Wherefore if 
ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though 
living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste 
not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after 
the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed 
a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting 
of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh" 
(Col. 2:20-23). Paul says that adding to God's Word is a mere vain 
display of "will worship and humility." It is "will-worship" 
religion instead of worship-according-to-God's-will religion. Manmade 
laws take away the liberty we have in Christ. God's moral law is perfect; 
it does not need additions. Manmade rules and regulations are "not 
in any honour" to the believer.

God has given His church a Psalm book and a holy day (the Lord's day). 
Can man improve upon the worship and service that God has instituted? 
Of course not. It is the height of arrogance and stupidity to think 
that sinful men can improve upon God's ordinances. "It is provoking 
God, because it reflects much upon His honor, as if He were not wise 
enough to appoint the manner of His own worship. He hates all strange 
fire to be offered in His temple (Lev. 10:11). A ceremony may in time 
lead to a crucifix. Those who contend for the cross in baptism, why 
not have the oil, salt and cream as well."11 

Why the Regulative Principle is Necessary

Church history has shown that God's covenant people have often been 
drawn away from the simplicity of pure gospel worship into all manner 
of manmade innovations. Because of man's fallen nature and proneness 
to sin, it was inevitable that human autonomy in worship would pervert 
and then force out true worship. "And it shall be unto you for 
a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments 
of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own 
heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: that 
ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto 
your God" (Num. 15:39-40).

Many argue that God's regulative principle is too strict. They argue 
that it confines the human spirit and stifles human creativity. They 
teach that it is an overreaction to the abuses of Roman Catholicism. 
But let us look at the logical implications of allowing anything into 
God's worship, as long as it is not forbidden in the Word of God.

The first thing is that the simplicity and transcultural nature of 
pure Gospel worship are replaced by a virtually infinite variety of 
manmade innovations. Since God no longer draws the line for worship 
content and ceremony, man will draw and redraw the line as he pleases. 
A church that does not obey God's regulative principle finds it impossible 
to stop new-fangled ideas and innovations in worship. The Presbyterian 
and Reformed denominations which abandoned the Regulative Principle 
in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century prove this point. 
The pattern of perversion goes something like this: First, man-made 
hymns (not commanded) are sung along with God's inspired Psalms (commanded); 
then, within a generation or two, the Psalms are completely replaced 
by hymns and grossly paraphrased Psalms. The old fashioned hymns, 
after a while, are replaced by "charismatic" campfire songs. 
Initially, the Reformed churches would sing the Psalms without musical 
accompaniment, because musical instruments were used only in association 
with God's temple and therefore ceased as one of the aspects of the 
ceremonial law. Many Reformed churches abandoned a capella Psalm singing 
and brought in organs. Then, within a generation or 
two, churches were using folk guitars, orchestras and even rock groups. 
The innovations just described are only the tip of the iceberg. You 
can find the following in so-called Presbyterian and Reformed churches: 
celebration of holy days (Christmas, Easter, etc.), choirs, intricate 
liturgies, liturgical dance, rock groups, drama, rock videos, the 
church calendar, pictures of Christ, crosses, etc.

If you give sinful man the autonomy of choosing how he will worship, 
the historical pattern is clear. Man will choose man-centered worship. 
Sinful man is drawn to entertainment (thus the popularity of the clap-your-hands, 
stamp-your-feet "charismatic" style worship, rock groups, 
drama, choirs, music soloists, pop and country singers, etc.), and 
sinful man is drawn to ritual and pomp (cathedrals, incense, candles, 
bells, holy days, popish vestments, liturgy, etc.). When will man-made 
innovations stop? They won't until the church obeys God's regulative 
principle of worship. God has given a command which man is not to 
ignore. "[T]he acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted 
by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, 
that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices 
of men. . . or any other way not prescribed in the holy 
Scripture."12 False worship originates in the mind of man, 
according to his imagination. True worship originates in the mind of God 
and is revealed in the Bible. "But this thing commanded I them, saying, 
Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk 
ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. 
But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the 
counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, 
and not forward" (Jer. 7:23-24). Calvin, in his commentary on 
Jeremiah, uses this verse to condemn all the perverse innovations 
of papal worship: "Moreover, if the origin of the whole Papal 
worship be considered, it will appear, that those who first devised 
so many strange superstitions, were only impelled by audacity and 
presumption, in order that they might trample underfoot the word of 
God. Hence it is, that all things are become corrupt; for they 
brought in all the strange figments of their own brains. And 
we see that the Papists at this day are so perversely fixed in their 
own errors, that they prefer themselves and their own trumperies to 
God. And the same is the case also with all heretics. What then is 
to be done? Obedience, as I have said, is to be held as the basis 
of all true religion. If, then, on the other hand, we wish to 
render our worship approved by God, let us learn to cast aside whatever 
is our own, so that his authority may prevail over all our reasons" 
(Emphasis added).13

True Worship vs. False Worship



True Worship

False Worship

Only what God commands in His Word is allowed.

Whatever is not expressly condemned in the Bible is allowable. 

God-centered worship.

Leads to man-centered worship. 

Worship content is the objective word of God.

Worship becomes more and more subjective or mystical. 

Worship remains pure, simple and unadulterated.

Worship changes and evolves and becomes adulterated with manmade traditions. 

Worship based on God's Word has limited parameters.

Public worship forms and content theoretically are infinite. 

Thoroughly biblical.

Basically pragmatic: whatever seems to work, and whatever pleases man, will be used. 

Pure Gospel worship is transcultural. Besides language barriers, people from churches that are faithful to the regulative principle could visit a like-minded church anywhere in the world and immediately fit right in and feel at home. In the seventeenth century, an English or American Puritan, a Scottish or Irish Presbyterian and a Reformed Dutchman both had very similar worship services. This was not the result of some act of conformity but because they both believed and obeyed the regulative principle. In the future, as pure doctrine and pure worship are revived and as whole nations are converted and covenant with God, the transcultural nature of pure Gospel worship will be very useful and important to travelers and business people.

False worship caters to man's sinful autonomy. Therefore false worship is a mixture of paganism and Christianity. Because false worship has a theoretically infinite number of worship options, a person would have to adapt, learn and adjust to each cultural and denominational worship option. The high church liturgical Episcopalian would probably feel uncomfortable at a black gospel jamfest. There are thousands of different hymnals, hundreds of different liturgies. There are rock groups, drama groups, orchestras, poetry readings, videos, Bo-Bo the clown, comedians, entertainers, Johnny Carson style interviews, liturgical dance, organ recitals; there are several different holy days and church calendars, etc. False worship fragments the church. 

Historically kept the Reformed and Presbyterian churches' worship pure, until abandoned or redefined so as to be rendered meaningless.

Historically has led the church into declension, heresy and idolatry. The apostolic church eventually degenerated into papalism. 

Biblical worship focuses on God and His Word.

Man-centered worship focuses on man and his senses. Therefore it either degenerates into entertainment or pompous ritual and ceremony (smells, bells, gator hats, cathedrals, intricate liturgies, etc.) 

Men have liberty under God's Word.

Men lose their liberty under man's changing and arbitrary standard. 

Pure Gospel worship fosters biblical ecumenicity and community.

False worship divides the church into a thousand splinters. As worship content and style "evolve" and change, the old are even divided from the young.

The word "liturgy" comes from the Greek leiturgia, 
meaning "the work or service of the people." Therefore, in 
a sense, all Christian worship is liturgical. When I speak of liturgy 
in a negative sense, I am referring to liturgy as used, for example, 
in the Roman Catholic, Protestant Episcopal, Lutheran and Russian 
Orthodox churches, etc. Liturgy in the negative sense means liturgy 
based on human and church tradition, for example: mandatory use of 
prayer books, the church calendar, priestly robes and vestments, 
candles, incense, manmade holy days, kneeling at communion, cathedrals, 
pictures of Christ and the saints, church music, choirs, and so on. 
The Book of Common Order referred to by historians as 
Knox's Liturgy was used by the Scottish until 1645. It was based upon 
the order of service from the Reformed churches in Strasbourg, Frankfurt 
and Geneva. The attitude of John Knox and the early Presbyterians 
toward the "common prayers" out of the Order was to limit their 
use to training those ignorant in the art of extemporaneous 
prayer. "The continuous and imperative use of a liturgy was inharmonious 
with the spirit of the reformers, who relied upon the inspiration 
of the Holy Spirit in prayer.14  The half-educated substitutes for ministers 
did require such mental crutches, as the Book of Discipline admitted, 
'till they grow the greater perfection. . . .' In 
similar terms, the well informed Calderwood, the historian, states: 
'none are tied to the prayers of that book; but the prayers are set 
down as samplers. . . . They are set forth as models.' "15



The regulative principle of worship has clear implications for those 
who want to promote the celebration of Christmas. The Regulative Principle 
forces those who celebrate Christmas to prove from Scripture that 
God has authorized the celebrating of such a day. This, in fact, 
is impossible. Additionally, celebrating Christmas violates other 
scriptural principles.

Christmas is a Monument to Past and Present Idolatry

The day on which Christmas is celebrated (December 25) and nearly 
all the customs associated with Christmas had their origins in pagan 
idol worship. "Many of the earth's inhabitants were sun worshipers 
because the course of their lives depended on its yearly round in 
the heavens, and feasts were held to aid its return from distant wanderings. 
In the south of Europe, in Egypt and Persia, the sun gods were worshipped 
with elaborate ceremonies at the season of the winter solstice, as 
a fitting time to pay tribute to the benign god of plenty, while in 
Rome the Saturnalia reigned for a week. In northern lands mid-December 
was a critical time, for the days became shorter and shorter and the 
sun was weak and far away. Thus these ancient peoples held feast at 
the same period that Christmas is now observed."16  During 
the winter solstice period the Babylonians worshipped Tammuz;17 
the Greeks and Romans worshipped Jupiter, Mithra, Saturn, Hercules, Bacchus, 
and Adonis; the Egyptians worshipped Osiris and Horus; the Scandinavians 
worshipped Odin (or Woden). "Among the German and Celtic tribes 
the winter solstice was considered an important point of the year, 
and they held their chief festival of Yul to commemorate the return 
of the burning wheel. The holly, the mistletoe, the Yul log, and the 
wassail bowl are relics of pre-Christian times."18 

Christmas was not celebrated by the apostolic church. It was not celebrated 
during the first few centuries of the church. As late as A.D. 245, 
Origen (Hom. 8 on Leviticus) repudiated the idea of keeping the birthday 
of Christ, "as if he were a king Pharaoh."19 By the middle of 
the 4th century, many churches in the Latin west were celebrating 
Christmas. During the 5th century, Christmas became an official Roman 
Catholic holy day. In A.D. 534, Christmas was recognized as an official 
holy day by the Roman state.

The reason that Christmas became a church holy day has nothing to 
do with the Bible. The Bible does not give the date of Christ's birth. 
Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to celebrate Christmas. Christmas 
(as well as many other pagan practices) was adopted by the Roman church 
as a missionary strategy.

The syncretism with paganism as a missionary strategy is clearly revealed 
in Pope Gregory I's instructions to missionaries, given in A.D. 601: 
"Because they [the pagans] were wont to sacrifice oxen to devils, 
some celebration should be given in exchange for this. . . 
they should celebrate a religious feast and worship God by their feasting, 
so that still keeping outward pleasures, they may more readily receive 
spiritual joys."20

This syncretism with paganism explains why Christmas customs are pagan 
to the core. The Christmas tree came into use because sacred trees 
were an important aspect of pagan worship during the winter solstice 
season. In Babylon, the evergreen tree represented Nimrod coming to 
life again in Tammuz who was supposedly born of a virgin, Semiramus. 
In Rome, they decorated fir trees with red berries to celebrate Saturnalia.21

The Scandinavians brought a sacred fir tree into their homes in honor 
of their god Odin. "When the pagans of Northern Europe became 
Christians, they made their sacred evergreen trees part of the Christian 
festival, and decorated the trees with gilded nuts, candles (a carry-over 
from sun worship), and apples to stand for the stars, moon, and sun."22

The lighting of special fires and candles on December 24 and 25 originated 
in sun worship. The use of the Yule log probably originated with Druid 
sun worship. The log would not be allowed to burn up and would be 
used to start next year's fire (possibly a symbol of the sun's rebirth). 
"The Romans ornamented their temples and homes with green boughs 
and flowers for the Saturnalia, their season of merry making and the 
giving of presents; the Druids gathered mistletoe with great ceremony 
and hung it in their homes; the Saxons used holly, ivy and bay."23

The fact that Christmas is full of pagan practices is universally 
recognized. "Yet many Christians contend that such practices no 
longer bear pagan connotations, and believe that the observance of 
Christmas provides an opportunity for worship and witness
bearing."24 Many Christians argue that they do not worship 
the Christmas tree, and that the pagan origins are so far in the past as to 
be harmless. But such a view, while common in our day, shows a total disregard 
of the biblical teaching regarding idols, the paraphernalia associated 
with idolatry, and the monuments to idolatry.

God has such a strong hatred of idolatry that Israel was not just 
commanded to avoid the worship of idols. Israel was also specifically 
ordered to destroy everything associated with idolatry. 
"Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations 
which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, 
and upon the hills, and under every green tree: and ye shall overthrow 
their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with 
fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy 
the names of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the LORD 
your God. . . . [A]nd that thou enquire not after their gods, 
saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do 
likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God" (Deut. 12:2-4, 

When Jacob set out to purify the camp (i.e., his household and attendants) 
the earrings were removed as well as their foreign gods (Gen. 35:4), 
because their earrings were associated with their false gods. They 
were signs of superstition. When Elijah went to offer his sacrifice, 
in his contest with the prophets of Baal, he did not use the pagan 
altar. He did not take something made for idols (e.g., Saturnalia) 
and attempt to sanctify it for holy use (e.g., Christmas), but instead 
he rebuilt the Lord's altar. Christians should not take the pagan 
festival of Yule or Saturnalia and dress it with Christian clothing, 
but rather sanctify the Lord's day, as did the apostles. When Jehu 
went up against the worshipers of Baal and their temple, did he save 
the temple and set it apart for holy use? No! He slaughtered the worshipers 
of Baal: "they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the 
house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day" (2 Ki. 

"Moreover, we have the example of good Josiah (2 Ki. 23), for 
he did not only destroy the houses, and the high places of Baal, but 
his vessels also, and his grove, and his altars; yea, the horses and 
chariots which had been given to the sun. The example also of penitent 
Manasseh, who not only overthrew the strange gods, but their altars 
too (2 Chron. 23:15). And of Moses, the man of God, who was not content 
to execute vengeance on the idolatrous Israelites, except he should 
also utterly destroy the monument of their idolatry."25

God does not want His church to take pagan days, and those pagan and 
popish rites and paraphernalia that go with them and adapt them to 
Christian use. He simply commands us to abolish them altogether from 
the face of the earth forever. You may not be offended by the Yule 
log, the Christmas tree, the mistletoe, the holly berries and the 
selection of a pagan day to celebrate Christ's birth, but God is offended. 
God commands us to get rid of the monuments and paraphernalia of paganism.

If your wife was promiscuous before you married her would you be offended 
if she had pictures of her old boyfriends on her dresser? Would it 
bother you if she celebrated the various anniversaries relating to 
her past relationships? Would you be offended if she kept and cherished 
the various rings, jewelry and mementos given to her by her old boyfriends? 
Of course you would be offended! The Lord God is infinitely more zealous 
of His honor than you are; He is a jealous God. Could Israel take 
festival days to Baal, Ashteroth, Dagon and Molech and alter them 
to make them pleasing to God? Of course not! The Bible makes very 
clear which kings of Judah pleased God the most. God is pleased when 
idols, their temples, their religious dress, earrings, sacred houses, 
sacred trees, poles, ornaments, rites, names and days are utterly 
cut off from the earth, never again to be restored. God wants His 
bride to eliminate forever the monuments, the days, the paraphernalia 
and the mementos of idolatry. "Learn not the way of the heathen, 
and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed 
at them. For the customs of the people are vain" (Jer. 10:2-3). 
"Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination 
to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods" 
(Deut. 12:31).

Christians must not only put away the monuments of past idolatry but 
also everything associated with present idolatry. Christmas is the 
most important holy day in Roman Catholicism. The name Christmas comes 
from Romanism: Christ-mass, or the Mass of Christ. The name Christmas 
unites the name or title of our glorious God and Savior with the idolatrous, 
blasphemous Mass of Popedom. Christ-mass is a mixture of Pagan idolatry 
and Popish invention.

The Roman Catholic Church hates the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Roman 
church uses human inventions, such as Christmas, to keep millions 
of people in darkness. The fact that millions of Bible-believing Protestants 
are observing a Roman Catholic holy day which has not been commanded 
anywhere in God's Word reveals the sad state of modern Evangelicalism. 
"We cannot conform, communicate, and symbolize with the idolatrous 
Papists, in the use of the same, without making ourselves idolaters 
by participation."26 Our attitude should be that of the Protestant 
Reformer Bucer who said, "I would to God that every holy day whatsoever 
besides the Lord's day were abolished. That zeal which brought them 
first in, was without all warrant of the Word, and merely followed 
corrupt reason, forsooth to drive out the holy days of the pagans, 
as one nail drives out another. Those holy days have been so tainted 
with superstitions that I wonder we tremble not at their very names."27

The common objection against the argument that pagan monuments must 
be abolished is that these things occurred so long ago as to be harmless 
to us. But this is totally untrue. Not only do we have the present 
idolatry of Romanism, but there is a revival going on at this very 
moment in Europe and North America of the old pagan European religions. 
The radical feminist movement is presently reviving the fertility 
goddesses and gods of the ancient Near East. God's law-Word says to 
get rid of the monuments to idolatry. God's law is not rendered null 
and void with the passage of time.

Christmas Dishonors Christ's Day

The day that God has set apart for His church corporately to celebrate 
the person and work of Christ is that day commonly called the Lord's 
day, the first day of the week, the Christian Sabbath. The first day 
of the week is the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. It is 
the day of Christ's victory over sin, Satan and death. Jesus' humiliation 
and sacrificial death are complete. Christ rose and is forever the 
exalted Lord of heaven and earth. "Yea, though we have known Christ 
after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." (2 Cor. 
5:16). "The Lord's day is given in memory of the whole work 
of redemption."28 The idea of honoring someone's life piecemeal 
(this event, that event) comes not from the Bible but from pagan emperor 
worship. In fact, the only birthday celebrations recorded in the whole 
Bible are those of Pharaoh (Gen. 40:20) and King Herod (Matt. 14:6; 
Mk. 6:21). Both birthday parties ended in murder, Herod's in the murder 
of John the Baptist.

God has been very generous to His people, giving them 52 holy days 
a year. When men add their own days (e.g., Christmas, Easter, etc.) 
they detract from, denigrate and even set aside the Lord's day. People 
love and give more attention to Christmas than they do the Lord's 
day. Many Christians spend nearly the whole month of December preparing 
for Christmas: decorating their homes, offices and churches, buying 
gifts, baking pies and cookies, practicing and memorizing Christmas 
carols, Christmas plays, Christmas carol recitals, etc. Many Americans 
rarely attend church but would never miss the Christmas service. The 
typical American winks at Sabbath breaking, fornication, adultery 
and drunkenness; but considers Christians who do not celebrate Christmas 
to be deluded fanatics. "What Jesus desires of us is not the observance 
of things He did not command, but the things He did command. 'Go ye 
therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe 
all things whatsoever I have commanded you' (Matt. 28:19,20). This 
is what the Apostles did. They taught the whole counsel of God (Acts 
20:27). It did not include Christmas, Good Friday, or Easter, because 
they were not part of the things commanded by Christ. So, the one 
who understands 'the true meaning of Christmas' (or Good Friday, or 
Easter) is precisely the one who realizes that they are human inventions. 
And in order to honor Christ as the only King and head of the church, 
such a person will not observe these man-made additions 
to what our Lord commanded. A person such as this may be out of step 
with a very popular custom. The important thing is that he will be 
in step with Christ and the Apostles."29

The only day that God has authorized as a holy day is 
the Lord's day.30 If the church wants to please Jesus Christ and honor 
Him, then it should do so by keeping His day and by setting an example 
to the outside world. When Christians make Christmas more special 
than the Lord's day, they disobey the teachings of Christ and dishonor 
His day.

Christmas is a Lie

Christianity is the religion of truth. God cannot lie. All truth and 
knowledge ultimately come from God. Jesus Christ is "the way, 
the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit 
is called "the Spirit of truth" (John 16:13). The Gospel is 
called "the word of truth" (Eph. 1:13). God commands: "Thou 
shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour" (Ex. 20:16). 
Paul tells us to be "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15), 
to put away lying and speak the truth to our neighbor in order not 
to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:25, 30). Jesus Christ tells us that 
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in 
spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Christians are 
to be light and salt to the world (Matt. 5:13, 16). Christians are 
to be a witness before the world by speaking the truth and living 
the truth. Is celebrating Christmas compatible with our responsibility 
to speak and live the truth before the world? No, because Christmas 
is a lie.

The date used to celebrate the birth of Christ, December 25, is a 
lie. According to the Bible, Jesus was not born on December 25. "And 
there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, 
keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8). It is common 
knowledge that shepherds in Palestine came in from the fields before 
winter. The rainy season in Judea began in late October or early November. 
The shepherds would bring their field flocks into the villages before 
the beginning of the rainy season. Therefore, Christ was born before 
the first week of November. "It is quite evident that Christ was 
not actually born in the middle of the winter season. But, on the 
other hand, do the scriptures tell us what season of the year he was 
born? Yes, the scriptures indicated that he was born in the fall of the year. 
For example, our Lord's public ministry lasted for three 
and a half years (Dan. 9:27, etc.). His ministry came to an end at 
the time of the Passover (John 18:39), which was in the spring of 
the year. And so three and a half years before this would mark the 
beginning of His ministry in the fall of the year. Now 
when Jesus began his ministry, he was about thirty years of age (Lk. 
3:23). This was the recognized age for a priest before he could become 
an official minister under the Old Testament (Num. 4:3). Therefore, 
since Christ began his ministry at the age of about 30 since this 
was in the fall season of the year then thirty years before this would 
mark his birth as being in the early FALL, not December

If Christians are willing to celebrate a lie and fill Christ's sham 
birthday with Papist and pagan mythology (e.g., Santa Claus, the Christmas 
tree, mistletoe, the Yule log, evergreens, etc.), then why should 
the world believe the church when it really speaks the truth? If you 
lie about the birth of Christ and gladly indulge in pagan mythology, 
then when you tell your neighbor about the resurrection of Christ, 
why should he believe you? By celebrating Christmas you are putting 
a stumbling block in front of your unbelieving neighbor. Your neighbor 
could reason that since you speak and live a lie regarding the birth 
of Christ, you cannot be trusted when you speak about the resurrection 
of Christ. I've actually had intellectuals say to me, after I spoke 
to them of Christ's death and resurrection, that they are myths foisted 
on simple people by the church just like Santa Claus and the Easter 
bunny (of course, the Christmas lie has gone on for so long that most 
people accept it as fact). The church must stop denigrating God's 
inspired, infallible Word by setting up human fantasies alongside 
divine revelation. Christmas is a contradiction of the biblical account 
of Christ's birth.

The World Loves Christmas32

"[K]now ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with 
God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy 
of God" (Jas. 4:4). "Love not the world, neither the things 
that are in the world" (1 John 2:15).

Who leads whom? Is not the church of the Lord Jesus Christ supposed 
to be an example to the world? Is not Christ's church to be salt and 
light to the nations? Is it proper for the church to follow the pagan 
world-system? Christmas did not originate in the Bible or the apostolic 
church; it is pagan to its very core. The day, the tree, the exchanging 
of gifts, the mistletoe, the holly berries all originated in the idolatrous 
pagan festivities surrounding the winter solstice. The compromised, 
apostatizing Roman church took what was pagan and attempted to Christianize 
it. Covenant-breaking, Christ-hating, idol-worshipping, pagan unbelievers 
love Christmas. Why? Because Christmas is not biblical. Christmas 
is not of God. It is a lie, and Satan, their master, is the father 
of lies. Atheists, homosexuals, feminists, wicked politicians, murderers, 
child molesters, and idolaters all love Christmas. If Christmas were 
biblical, and if Christmas were commanded to be observed in the Bible, 
would the world love it so? Absolutely not! The world would hate Christmas. 
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of 
God" (1 Cor. 2:14). Does the world love the Lord's day, the Christian 
Sabbath? Of course not. The world hates it. Does the world love and 
obey the resurrected King of kings and Lord of lords? No! The world 
hates Christ. The world does love a plastic or clay baby in a manger. 
A plastic baby is not very threatening. Christ is no longer a baby. 
He is the glorified king who sits at the right hand of the Father. 
"Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth 
know we him no more" (2 Cor. 5:16).

The Bible teaches that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness 
with God" (1 Cor. 3:19). "Thus saith the LORD: Learn not the 
way of the heathen. . . for the customs of the peoples are 
vain" (Jer. 10: 2-3). The apostle Paul has in mind a much broader 
application than just marriage when he says, "Be ye not unequally 
yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness 
with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 
and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath 
he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath 
the temple of God with idols?. . . Wherefore come out from 
among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the 
unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2 Cor. 6:14-17). When 
the church has something relating to worship and religion in common 
with the unbelieving pagan world, the church, in that area, is bound 
together with unbelievers. The church has no business celebrating 
a pagan holiday with the pagan world. What hypocrisy! What wickedness!

Don't Be Fooled

Paul warns that "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of 
light" (2 Cor. 11:14). That is why pagan festivals throughout 
the world are fun days. They are days of fine food, parties, parades, 
family reunions and gift giving. Satan's goal is not merely to enslave 
individuals but also to control institutions, cultures and nations. 
The heathen calendar of "holy days," where pagan festivals 
are celebrated each year at certain times, is a Satan-inspired tool 
to habituate whole cultures in covenant rebellion. Satan wants individuals 
and nations to be enslaved in pagan ritual and darkness. A culture 
is habituated to paganism when pagan festivals, rites and ceremonies 
are second nature and unquestioned in that society.

How have Christians been fooled into celebrating a pagan festival 
day? The day has been transformed from a day of darkness to a day 
of light. How is this done? It's very simple. The first thing you 
do is lie. You teach that this day is Christ's birthday. The fact 
that this is not really the day Christ was born is inconsequential. 
Very few people will check the facts. And the ones who do will be 
regarded as fanatics, Scrooges and out of touch with modernity. Second, 
you make it a day when family members are required to be together. 
What a wonderful thing it is, a day for family dinner and family values. 
Third, you make it a day of gift giving and charity, a day of caring 
and sharing. Who could be against that? Fourth, you dedicate the day 
to children all over the world. You make it fun and give them lots 
of hugs and presents. Therefore, when these children grow up, the 
day will be filled with fond memories. It is a day of intense sentimentality. 
Doesn't it bring a little tear to your eye when you think of your 
parents and brothers and sisters gathered around the tree? Fifth, 
you make sure every city and town is properly decorated. And you get 
the whole entertainment industry into high gear with articles, specials, 
movies, plays and recitals. Sixth, you put community, workplace, church 
and family pressure on those who do not celebrate the day to conform 
or else be viewed as perverting the truth or out of touch with reality.

Has this strategy been effective? Yes, very effective. There was a 
time when Presbyterians and Congregationalists would have been disciplined 
for celebrating Christmas. For Protestants from the Calvinist wing 
of the Reformation, celebrating such days was unthinkable for nearly 
three hundred years. Now, if you are a Presbyterian and do not celebrate 
Christmas, other Presbyterians think you are a fanatic. Protestants 
have been fooled, bamboozled, hoodwinked and duped because they have 
forgotten God's Regulative Principle. "Every word of God is pure: 
he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not 
unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar" 
(Prov. 30:5-6). There would be only one acceptable reason for a Christian 
to celebrate Christmas, and that would be an instruction from the 
Word of God to do so. Since there is no implicit or explicit instruction 
from the Bible to do so, it is forbidden.

Common Reasons Given by Christians for Celebrating Christmas

I. Doesn't Romans 14:5-6 allow Christians to celebrate Christmas?

"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every 
day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that 
regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth 
not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it" (Rom. 14:5-6).

1. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, was addressing a situation unique 
to the early church. There were Jewish believers who "regarded 
the holy days of the ceremonial economy as having abiding sanctity."33 
The "days" spoken of in Romans were days commanded by God in the 
old economy. Paul is "referring to the ceremonial holy days of the Levitical 
institution."34 Virtually all commentators concur with this 
interpretation.35 Paul allows for diversity in the church 
over the issue of Jewish holy days because of the unique historical 
circumstances. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, the ceremonial 
aspects of the law (e.g., animal sacrifices, Jewish holy days, circumcision, 
etc.) were done away with. Yet prior to the destruction of Jerusalem 
and the temple in A.D. 70, the apostles allowed certain practices 
by Jewish Christians as long as no works-righteousness 
was attributed to these practices. In Acts 21:26, we even encounter 
the apostle Paul going to the Temple "to announce the expiration 
of the days of purification." Jewish believers who were already 
accustomed to keeping certain holy days of the Mosaic economy were 
allowed to continue doing so for a time. But once the Temple was destroyed, 
the canon of Scripture was completed, and the church had existed for 
a whole generation, these unique historical circumstances ceased. 
And even if this passage were still applicable to our present situation, 
it could not be used to justify Christmas, because these days were 
not "Christianized" pagan holy days nor arbitrary holy days 
set up by man. Therefore, if this passage were still applicable to 
our situation, it could only be used to justify the private celebration 
of Jewish holy days by weak Jewish believers. It cannot be used as 
a justification for man-made days or pagan days which God has not 

2. Not only does this passage not allow Christians to celebrate Christmas, 
it most certainly forbids holding Christmas services of any kind and 
having Christmas fellowships or parties. Paul allows for diversity 
in the church over this issue (i.e., Jewish holy days). Both parties 
are to accept each other for the sake of peace and unity in the church. 
Both parties believe that they are obeying the Word of God. "Compelled 
conformity or pressure exerted to the end of securing conformity defeats 
the aims to which all the exhortations and reproofs are directed."36

Therefore, it would be wrong for the weak Jewish believers to force 
the church to have a worship service in honor of a ceremonial holy 
day, because the strong Gentile believers would feel compelled to 
attend the public worship of God. Therefore, those who did celebrate 
Jewish holy days had to do it privately unto the Lord. Those who use 
this passage to justify celebrating Christmas would likewise be forced 
by Paul's injunction to keep the day a private affair. Thus, Christmas 
services and church Christmas parties would cease, for they violate 
the freedom of Christians not to celebrate such a day. Of course, 
Christmas, not being commanded by God and being a monument to idolatry, 
is forbidden, anyway.37

Pastors and elders who do authorize a Christmas service abuse their 
office. The pastor and governors of a church receive their authority 
from God. They are responsible to rule the church according to the 
Word of God. When pastors and elders authorize a special Christmas 
service, they do so on their own authority, because there is no warrant 
from the Word of God to do so. Therefore, in this one point they act 
no differently than the pope or a bishop. They intrude a human invention 
into the church. Those in the church who refuse to take part in a 
pagan-popish festival day, who refuse to worship God according to 
man's imagination, who refuse to worship God without divine authorization, 
are forced by the church leadership to remain at home instead of attending 
the public worship of God. Thus, in this point, many presbyters act 
like popes, prelates and tyrants over God's flock, because they take 
away the freedom we have in Christ to worship God as one body publicly 
"in Spirit and in truth" on the Lord's day.

II. Didn't the Jews in the days of queen Esther set up a holy day 
not authorized in the law of Moses? Doesn't that example allow the 
church to set up a holy day (e.g., Christmas) not authorized in the 

1. There is almost no resemblance between Christmas and Purim. Purim 
consists of two days of thanksgiving. The events of Purim are: "joy 
and gladness, a feast and a good day. . . and of sending portions 
one to another, and gifts to the poor" (Est. 8:17; 9:22). There 
was no worship service. There were no levitical priestly activities. 
There were no ceremonies. The two days of Purim have much more in 
common with Thanksgiving and it's dinners than Christmas. Purim is 
certainly no justification for Christmas services. Purim resembles 
the special days of thanksgiving which are still allowed, and not 
the religious and ceremonial holy days of the Levitical system. In 
fact, the Westminster divines used Purim as a proof text (Est. 9:22) 
authorizing days of thanksgiving.38

2. Purim was a unique historical event in Israel's salvation history. 
The festival was decreed by the civil magistrate: the prime minister, 
Mordecai, and the queen, Esther. It was agreed to unanimously by the 
people. The occasion and authorization of Purim are inscripturated 
in the Word of God and approved by the Holy Spirit. The biblical 
imperative of no addition and no subtraction applies to man-made law 
and worship. It most certainly does not forbid the Holy Spirit from 
completing the canon of Scripture and instituting new regulations.

3. Christmas is intrinsically immoral because it is built upon the 
monuments of pagan idolatry. There is nothing wrong with a country 
having a day of thanksgiving for a special act of deliverance by God. 
But there is something very wrong when a corrupt church attempts to 
sew Christian cloth onto pagan garments. There is something very wrong 
when Protestants conspire with the corrupt church of Rome and use 
godly Mordecai as an excuse.

III. There is no question that Christmas has no place in the public 
worship of God, but isn't it okay to celebrate it privately in the 

The problem with this view is that it presupposes that the Regulative 
Principle only applies to public worship. There is no biblical evidence 
to support the idea that the Regulative Principle was only meant for 
public worship. In fact, the biblical evidence supports the opposite 
view. Cain was condemned for an innovation in private worship (Gen. 
4:2-8). Noah, in family worship, offered clean animals to God (Gen. 
8:20-21). God was pleased and accepted Noah's offering on behalf of 
himself and his family. Abraham, Jacob and Job offered sacrifices 
to God in private or family worship, according to God's Word. God 
accepted these lawful offerings. The idea that innovations in worship 
are permitted in family and private worship is unbiblical; it is totally 
arbitrary because it is not based on divine revelation. If an innovation 
in public worship displeases God, then how does it please Him in private 
worship? Would it not be permissible, under such premises, to have 
little shrines in our homes where we burn incense, wear surplices, 
miters and such, as long as we keep such things out of public meetings?

There are some differences between public and private worship (e.g., 
private worship should occur two to three times a day, whereas public 
worship should occur at least once every Lord's day.) 
People in Reformed denominations who brought in unbiblical innovations 
such as Christmas, women teaching the Bible and theology to men in 
Bible studies and Sunday school, hymns and Christmas carols, etc., 
did not seek to justify these new innovations by appealing to Scripture. 
Instead, they arbitrarily set these activities outside 
of the Regulative Principle by pronouncing them all as under the sphere 
of private worship. Pastors and their flocks are so in love with their 
innovations that they resort to mystification. They act as if their 
pastor is a pope or bishop and has the authority to turn private worship 
(where they assume human autonomy is permitted) into public worship 
(where the Word reigns supreme) by saying "thus begins the public 
worship of God." Where in the Bible is public worship relegated 
to a few hours on the Lord's day?39  Jesus Christ said, "For 
where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst 
of them" (Matt. 18:20). How is a woman teaching several men on 
the Sabbath private? How are fifty people singing Christmas 
carols engaging in private worship? Do not presuppose 
that God permits innovation and human autonomy in private worship. 
Try to prove it from the Word of God. You cannot. Do not arbitrarily 
declare what is obviously public worship as private. The rabbis of 
old justified all sorts of nonsense with such reasoning.

The Bible says, "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" 
(1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). When Presbyterian pastors and elders stopped 
disciplining church members for celebrating Christmas in the home 
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they virtually guaranteed 
that the pagan-popish leaven of Christmas would spread. In fact, it 
has. One must search far and wide to find a Presbyterian home or church 
where this popish invention is not celebrated.40

IV. We do not celebrate Christmas. For us the day is just a secular 
family day. What could be wrong with that?

There are 365 days in a year. How is it that every year your secular 
family day just happens to fall on December 25? Could it be that you 
are just imitating your pagan neighbors and their heathen culture? 
Could it be that you celebrate the day just as everyone else does 
and just declare it secular as a justification or an excuse? If you 
are just having a good family day, then why do you fill your living 
room with the monuments and mementos of present and past idolatry? 
You say the day is a secular family day, but you have a tree, evergreens, 
mistletoe, gifts, candles and carols. It is obvious that you celebrate 
Christmas much as a papist does. The truth is that if you eliminated 
all the pagan paraphernalia of Christmas, then you probably would 
not bother to celebrate it. The pagan day would lose its glitter, 
charm and emotional allure. As Christians we should be family oriented. 
We should get together with our relatives and enjoy each other's company. 
But we do not need a pagan festival day to do so.


If the church of Jesus Christ is to be salt and light to our degenerate 
culture, she must first clean her own house. More and more Christians 
are trying to have a positive impact on our pagan culture. They are 
trying to stem the tide of secular humanism and statism. This new 
involvement is needed, but it will not succeed until the church returns 
to the doctrinal purity and purity of worship attained by the Calvinist 
wing of the Reformation. The pagan Roman state with all of its power 
could not destroy the Christian church. The church prospered in spite 
of the Roman empire's tyranny and oppression. What caused severe damage 
to the church was internal decay. The corruption of doctrine and worship 
within the church made the church a fountain of heresy, superstition, 
idolatry and tyranny.

Evangelicalism in our day is in a state of serious decline. Church 
growth, ecumenical fellowship, pragmatism and keeping the peace have 
taken precedence over doctrinal integrity and pure worship. As a result, 
modern Evangelicalism is flabby, compromising, impotent and lukewarm. 
It is not a coincidence that the church had the most positive impact 
upon society and culture when its doctrine and worship were most pure 
(e.g., the second Reformation period in Scotland, 1638). Only when 
we return to Biblical worship, and reject human autonomy in worship 
are we prepared to recapture our society for Christ.

Historical Appendix

The Holy Spirit upbraids the Jew with their holy-days. "Your Sabbaths, 
and new moons, and ceremonies," says He, "My soul hateth." 
By us, to whom Sabbaths [i.e., the Jewish sabbaths] are strange, and 
the new moons and festivals formerly beloved by God, the Saturnalia 
[i.e., Yule] and New-year's and Midwinter's festivals and Matronalia 
are frequented--presents come and go--New-year's gifts--games 
join their noise--banquets join their din! Oh better fidelity of 
the nations to their own sect, which claims no solemnity of the Christians 
for itself! Not the Lord's day, not Pentecost, even if they had known 
them, would they have shared with us; for they would fear lest they 
should seem to be Christians. We are not apprehensive lest we seem 
to be heathens! If any indulgence is to be granted to the flesh, you 
have it. I will not say your own days, but more too; for to the heathens 
each festive day occurs but once annually: you have a festive day 
every eighth day [i.e., the Lord's day]. --Tertullian, De Idololatria 
(2nd century).

We have always accounted as an unspeakable abomination before God, 
all those inventions of men, viz. the feasts and the vigils of saints, 
the water they call holy, the abstaining from flesh upon certain days, 
and similar things; but especially the mass. --Waldenses,  First 
Confession (1120).

One should abolish all festivals, retaining only the Lord's day. . . . 
My reason is this: with our present abuses of drinking, gambling, 
idling, and all manner of sin, we vex God more on holy days than on 
others. And the matter is just reversed; we have made holy days unholy, 
and working days holy, and do no service, but great dishonour, to 
God and His saints with all our holy days. --Martin Luther (German 
Reformer), Address to the German Nobility (1520).

We ought to cease from all work on the Lord's day, as persons zealous 
for God's glory, and kind to our servants; and on that day we ought 
to devote ourselves to the worship of God. . . . There is no 
certain determination of time for any Christian fast, and it cannot 
be found in Scripture that God has either commanded or appointed any 
particular days. --Waldenses, Second Confession (1532).

Those who observe the Romish festivals or fasts shall only be reprimanded, 
unless [i.e., if] they remain obstinately rebellious. --Register 
of the Company of Pastors (Geneva, 1546).

Abrogation of Festivals. On Sunday 16 November 1550, 
after the election of the lieutenant in the general Council, an edict 
was also announced respecting the abrogation of all the festivals, 
with the exception of Sundays, which God had ordained.--Register 
of the Company of Pastors (Geneva, 1550).

By the contrary doctrine, we understand whatsoever men, by laws, councils, 
or constitutions have imposed upon the consciences of men, without 
the expressed commandment of God's Word; such as the vows of chastity, 
forswearing of marriage, binding of men and women to several disguised 
apparels, to the superstitious observation of fasting days, difference 
of meat [food] for conscience' sake, prayer for the dead; and keeping 
of holy days of certain saints commanded by man, such as be all those 
that the Papists have invented, as the feasts (as they term them) 
of Apostles, Martyrs, Virgins, of Christmass, Circumcision, Epiphany, 
Purification, and other fond feasts of our Lady. Which things, because 
in God's Scriptures they neither have commandment nor assurance, we 
judge them utterly to be abolished from the realm; affirming farther, 
that the obstinate maintainers and teachers of such abominations ought 
not to escape the punishment of the Civil magistrate. --Church 
of Scotland, (First) Book of Discipline (1560).

This one thing, however, we can scarcely refrain from mentioning, 
with regard to what is written in the 24th chapter of the aforesaid 
Confession [Second Helvetic] concerning the "festival of our Lord's 
nativity, circumcision, passion, resurrection, ascension, and sending 
the Holy Ghost upon his disciples," that these festivals at the 
present time obtain no place among us; for we dare not religiously 
celebrate any other feast-day than what the divine oracles have prescribed. 
--The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland [subscribed by 
John Knox, John Craig, James Melville, and a host of others], Letter 
to the Very Eminent Servant of Christ, Master Theodore Beza, the Most 
Learned and Vigilant Pastor of the Genevan Church (1566).

That all days that heretofore have been kept holy, besides the Sabbath 
days, such as Yule [Christ-mass] day, Saint's days, and such others, 
may be abolished, and a civil penalty against the keepers thereof 
by ceremonies, banqueting, fasting, and such other vanities. --General 
Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Articles to be Presented 
to my Lord Regent's Grace (1575).

[W]e abhor and detest all contrary religion and doctrine; but chiefly 
all kind of Papistry in general and particular heads, even as they 
are now damned and confuted by the Word of God and Kirk of Scotland. 
But, in special, we detest and refuse the usurped authority of that 
Roman Antichrist upon the Scriptures of God, upon the Kirk, the civil 
magistrate, and consciences of men;. . . [his] dedicating of 
kirks, altars, days;. . . --John Craig [subscribed by the 
king and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1580; renewed 
in 1581, 1590 and 1638], The National Covenant: or, the Confession 
of Faith (1580).

The Kirk of Geneva, keeps Pasche and Yule, what have they for them? 
They have no institution [from Scripture]. --King James VI (James 
I, of King James Bible fame), Address to the General Assembly 
of the Church of Scotland (1590).

If Paul condemns the Galatians for observing the feasts which God 
himself instituted, and that for his own honour only, and not for 
the honour of any creature: the Papists are much more laid open to 
condemnation, which press observations of feasts of men's devising, 
and to the honour of men. --Thomas Cartwright (Nonconformist minister, 
England), The Confutation of the Rhemists' Translation, Glosses 
and Annotations (1618).

On the day called Christmas Day, the Governor called them out to work 
as was used. But the most of this new company excused themselves and 
said it went against their consciences to work on that day. So the 
Governor told them that if they made it a matter of conscience, he 
would spare them till they were better informed; so he led away the 
rest and left them. But when they came home at noon from their work, 
he found them in the street at play, openly; some pitching the bar, 
and some at stool-ball and such like sports. So he went to them and 
took away their implements and told them that was against his conscience, 
that they should play and others work. If they made the keeping of 
it a matter of devotion, let them keep their houses; but there should 
be no gaming or reveling in the streets. Since which time nothing 
hath been attempted that way, at least openly. --William Bradford 
(governor, Plymouth colony), Of Plymouth Plantation (1621).

Opposed to the ordinance of the Lord's Day are all feast days ordained 
by men when they are considered holy days like the Lord's Day. --William 
Ames (Nonconformist minister, exiled to the Netherlands; professor 
of theology at Franeker), The Marrow of Theology (1623).

The PASTOR thinketh it no Judaism nor superstition, but a moral duty 
to observe the Sabbath. . . . Beside the Sabbath he can admit 
no ordinary holidays appointed by man, whether in respect of any mystery, 
or of difference of one day from another, as being warranted by mere 
tradition, against the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, but accounteth 
the solemn fasts and humiliations unto which the Lord calleth, to 
be extraordinary sabbaths, warranted by God himself.

The PRELATE, by his doctrine, practice, example, and neglect of discipline, 
declareth that he hath no such reverend estimation of the Sabbath. 
He doteth so upon the observation of Pasche, Yule, and festival days 
appointed by men, that he preferreth them to the Sabbath, and hath 
turned to nothing our solemn fasts and blessed humiliations. --David 
Calderwood (minister and theologian, Church of Scotland), The 
Pastor and the Prelate (1628).

Concerning ceremonial festivals, of man's making, our practice cannot 
be objected: because we observe none. We take occasion of hearing, 
and praying, upon any day, when occasion is offered. We say (with 
Hospinian, de Orig. Fest. Christ, cap. 2.), 

Not the day, but the Word of God, &c. puts us in mind of the 
nativity, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. . . . 
For we do not fear. . . lest all the Churches of God 
will condemn us herein. Those that consent with Geneva, nor 
those of Scotland;. . . no nor any that follow Bucer's judgment 
(in Matt. 12), I would to God that every Holy-day whatsoever 
beside the Lord's Day, were abolished. That zeal which brought them 
first in, was without all warrant of the Word, and merely followed 
corrupt reason, forsooth to drive out the Holy days of the Pagans, 
as one nail drives out another. Those Holy-days, have been so tainted 
with superstition that I wonder we tremble not at their very names. 

See the place, Oecolampadius (in Isa. 1:4), thinketh that no wise 
Christian will condemn us. I never heard wise man yet, who did 
not judge that a great part at least of other feasts besides the Lord's 
Day should be abolished. --William Ames (Nonconformist minister, 
exiled to the Netherlands; professor of theology at Franeker), A 
Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God's Worship (1633).

By communicating with idolaters in their rites and ceremonies, we 

ourselves become guilty of idolatry. Even as Ahaz (2 Ki. 16:10) was 
an idolater. . . that he took the pattern of an altar from 
idolaters. Forasmuch then, as kneeling before the consecrated bread, 
the sign of the cross, surplice, festival days, bishopping, bowing 
to the altar, administration of the sacraments in private places, 
&c. are the wares of Rome, the baggage of Babylon, the trinkets of 
the Whore, the badges of Popery, the ensigns of Christ's enemies, 
and the very trophies of Antichrist: we cannot conform, communicate, 
and symbolize with the idolatrous Papists, in the use of the same, 
without making ourselves idolaters by participation. Shall the chaste 
Spouse of Christ take upon her the ornaments of the Whore? --George 
Gillespie (Westminster divine), A Dispute Against the English 
Popish Ceremonies (1637).

[H]ow can it be denied, that many corruptions, contrary to the purity 
and liberty of the Gospel, were they never so innocent in themselves, 
have accompanied these Novations, such as the superstitious 
observing of Days, feriation and cessation from work, 
on those days, Feasting-guising, &c. --Alexander Henderson 
(Westminster divine) and David Dickson (professor of theology, Church 
of Scotland), The Answers of Some Brethren of the Ministrie, 
to the Replies of the Ministers and Professours of Divinitie in Aberdeene: 
Concerning the Late Covenant (1638).

[Festival days are] an entrenching upon God's prerogative: for none 
can appoint an holy day, but he who hath made the days, and 
hath all power in his own hand, which is clear; first, from the denomination 
of them in both Testaments; in the old they are called the solemn 
feasts of Jehovah [Lev. 23:1; Ex. 32:5], not only because they were 
to be kept to Jehovah, but also because they were of his appointing; 
and so in the New Testament, as we read but of one [holy-day] for 
the self-same reasons, it is called The Lord's Day [Rev. 
1:10]. --John Bernard? (Nonconformist minister, England), The 
Anatomy of the Service Book (1641).

This day is the day which is commonly called The Feast of Christ's 
Nativity, or Christmas day: A day that hath been 
heretofore much abused to superstition and prophaneness. It is not 
easy to reckon whether the superstition hath been greater, 
or the prophaneness. I have known some that have preferred Christmas 
day before the Lord's Day, and have cried down 
the Lord's Day, and cried up Christmas day. 

I have known those that would be sure to receive the sacrament upon 
Christmas day, though they did not receive it all the year after. 
This and much more was the superstition of the day. And the prophaneness 
was as great. Old Father Latimer saith in one of his 
sermons, That the Devil had more service in the twelve Christmas holy 
days (as they were called) than God had all the year after. . . . 
There are some that though they did not play at cards all the year 
long, yet they must play at Christmas; thereby, it seems, to keep 
in memory the birth of Christ. This and much more hath been the profanation 
of this feast. And truly I think that the superstition and profanation 
of this day is so rooted into it, as that there is no way to reform 
it but by dealing with it as Hezekiah did with the brazen 
serpent. This year God by a Providence hath buried this 
feast in a fast, and I hope it will never rise again. You have set 
out (Right Honourable [House of Lords]) a strict order for the keeping 
of it, and you are here this day to observe your own order, and I 
hope you will do it strictly. The necessity of the times are great. 
Never more need of prayer and fasting. The Lord give us grace to be 
humbled in this day of humiliation for all our own, and England's 
sins; and especially for the old superstition, and profanation of 
this feast: always remembering upon such days as these, Isa. 22:12-14.--Edmund 
Calamy (Westminster divine), An Indictment Against England Because 
of her Selfe-Murdering Divisions (1645).

Festival days, vulgarly called holy-days, having no warrant in the 
Word of God, are not to be continued. --Westminster Assembly, Directory 
for Publick Worship (1645).

The General Assembly taking to their consideration the manifold abuses, 
profanity, and superstitions, committed on Yule-day [Christ-mass] 
and some other superstitious days following, have unanimously concluded 
and hereby ordains, that whatsoever person or persons hereafter shall 
be found guilty in keeping of the foresaid superstitious days, shall 
be proceeded against by Kirk censures, and shall make their public 
repentance therefore in the face of the congregation where the offence 
is committed. And that the presbyteries and provincial synods take 
particular notice how ministers try and censure delinquents of this 
kind, within the several parishes. --General Assembly, Church of 
Scotland, Act for Censuring Observers of Yule-day, and other 
Superstitious days (1645).

Lascivious carousings, drunkenness, harlotry, come from observing 
of holy days. . . . [Y]our [i.e., the prelates'] ceremonies 
that break the sixth commandment, shall find no room in the fifth 
commandment. Cause the fifth commandment [to] speak thus, if you can: 
"Notwithstanding that crossing, kneeling, surplice, human holy 
days occasion the soul murder of him for whom Christ died, yet we 
the Prelates command the practice of the foresaid ceremonies as good 
and expedient for edification, for our commandment maketh the murdering 
of our brethren, to be obedience to the fifth commandment." But 
if Prelates may command that which would otherwise, without, or before 
the commandment, spiritual murdering and scandalizing our brother, 
they may command also, that which would be otherwise without, or before 
their command, adultery against the seventh, and theft against the 
eighth, and perjury and lying against the ninth commandment, and concupiscence 
against the tenth; for the fifth commandment hath the precedency before 
the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth commandments, no less than before 
the sixth, which forbiddeth the killing of our brother's soul. . . . 

What do our Doctors [the prelates] clatter and fable to us of a right 
of justice, that mortal rulers have to command in things indifferent, 
from which the destruction of souls doth arise? for these commandments 
of rulers: kneel religiously before bread, the vicegerent image 
of Christ crucified; keep human holy days; cross the air with your 
thumb above a baptized infant's face, at best, are but positive 
commandments, not warranted by God's word. But shall they be more 
obligatory by a supposed band of justice that Prelates have over us 
to command, such toy's then this divine law of God and Nature, Rom. 
14. For indifferent days, meats, surplice, destroy not him for whom 
Christ died?. . . We see not how the ceremonies are 
left free to conscience, because they are alterable by the Church, 
for [because] the reason of kneeling to bread, of human [holy] days, 
of surplice, is moral, not national [i.e., they are ecclesiastical, 
and therefore moral, not civil, and therefore national]. --Samuel 
Rutherford, (Westminster divine), The Divine Right of Church 
Government and Excommunication (1646).

[U]surping Prelacy under it's shadow, did in the secret and holy judgment 
of God, change the Glory of God and of our Lord Jesus into the Similitude 
and Image of the Roman Beast, turning the Power of Godliness unto 
Formality, his faithful Ministers into corrupt Hirelings, the Power 
and Life of Preaching into Flattery and Vanity, the Substance of Religion 
into empty and ridiculous Ceremonies, the Beauty and Purity of the 
Ordinances into Superstitious Inventions of Kneeling, Crossing, Holy 
Days and the like. . . . --James Stirling (minister, Church 
of Scotland), Naphtali, or the Wrestlings of the Church of Scotland 
for the Kingdom of Christ (1667).

1. That there can be no solemn setting apart of any day to any creature; 
thus Saints' days are unlawful. For the Sabbath, or Day of Rest, 
is to the Lord, and to none other, it being a peculiar piece of worship 
to him who hath divided time betwixt his worship and our work. . . .

2. No man can institute any day, even to the true God, as a part of 
worship, so as to bind the consciences to it, or to equal it with 
this day [the Lord's day]. That is a part of God's royal prerogative, 
and a thing peculiar to him to sanctify and bless a day.

3. Even those days which are pretended to be set apart to and for 
God, and yet not as part of worship, cannot be imposed in a constant 
and ordinary way (as Anniversary days and feasts are) because by an 
ordinary rule God hath given to man six days for work, except in extraordinary 
cases he shall please to call for some part of them again. --James 
Durham (minister, Church of Scotland), The Law Unsealed (1675).

Dec. 25. Friday. Carts come to Town and Shops open as is usual. Some 
somehow observe the day [Christ-mass]; but are vexed I believe that 
the Body of the People profane it, and blessed be God no Authority 
yet to compell them to keep it. --Samuel Sewall (judge, chief magistrate 
of Boston), journal entry in The Heart of the Puritan (1685).

It is not a work but a word makes one day more holy than another. 
There is no day of the week, but some eminent work of God has been 
done therein; but it does not therefore follow that every day must 
be kept as a Sabbath. The Lord Christ has appointed the first day 
of the week to be perpetually observed in remembrance of his resurrection 
and redemption. If more days than that had been needful, he would 
have appointed more. It is a deep reflection on the wisdom of Christ, 
to say, He has not appointed days enough for his own honour, 
but he must be beholding to men for their additions. The Old 
Waldenses witnessed against the observing of any holidays, besides 
that which God in his Word hath instituted. Calvin, Luther, Danaeus, 
Bucer, Farel, Viret, and other great Reformers, have wished that the 
observation of all holidays, except the Lord's Day, were abolished. 
A Popish writer complains that the Puritans in England were of the 
same mind. So was John Huss and Jerome of Prague long ago. And the 
Belgic Churches in their Synod, Anno 1578. The Apostle 
condemns the observation of Jewish festivals in these days of the 
New Testament, Gal. 4:10; Col. 2:16. Much less may Christians state 
other days in their room. The Gospel has put an end to the difference 
of days as well as of meats. And neither the Pope nor the Church can 
make some days holy above others, no more than they can make the use 
of some meats to be lawful or unlawful, both of which are expressly 
contrary to the Scripture, Rom. 14:5,6. All stated holidays of man's 
inventing, are breaches of the Second and of the Fourth Commandment. 
A stated religious festival is a part of instituted worship. Therefore 
it is not in the power of men, but God only, to make a day holy. --Increase 
Mather (Nonconformist minister, New England), Testimony Against 
Prophane Customs (1687).

Q. Is there any other day holy besides this day [i.e., the Lord's 

A. No day but this is holy by institution of the Lord; yet days of 
humiliation and thanksgiving may be lawfully set apart by men on a 
call of providence; but popish holidays are not warrantable, nor to 
be observed; Gal. 4:10. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and 
years. --John Flavel (Nonconformist minister, Dartmouth, England), 
An Exposition of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism (1692).

Q. 3. May not the Popish holy-days be observed?

A. The Popish holy-days ought not to be observed, because they are 
not appointed in the Word; and, by the same reason, no other holy-days 
may be kept, whatsoever pretence there be of devotion towards God, 
when there is no precept or example for such practice in the holy 
scripture. --Thomas Vincent (Nonconformist minister, London), An 
Explicatory Catechism: or, An Explanation of the Assembly's Catechism (1708).

Instead of Endeavours to extirpate Superstition and Heresie, 
as we are bound by the same Articles of the Solemn League,and 
by the "National Covenant to Detaste [sic] all Superstition 
and Heresie without or against the Word of God, and Doctrine of this 
Reformed Kirk; according to the Scripture. . . Gal. 4:10. 
Ye observe Days, and Months, and Times, and Years. . . . 
Col. 2:23, Which things have indeed a shew of Wisdom 
in Will-worship, and Humility, and neglecting of the Body, not in 
any Honour to the satisfying of the Flesh. Tit. 3:10. 
A Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admonition, 
reject. Yet in the darkness of the times of Persecution, many Dregs 
of Popish Superstition were observed, many Omens and 
Freets too much looked to; Popish Festival days, as Pasche, Yule, 
Fastings even, &c. have been kept by many. . . ." --John 
M'Millan, of Balmaghie, et al., The National Covenant, and Solemn 
League and Covenant, With the Acknowledgement of Sins and Engagement 
to Duties: As they were Renewed at Douglass, July 24th, 1712, With 
Accommodation to the Present Times (1712).

I do reckon the civil imposition of the Yule vacance not only unreasonable, 
but an occasional inlet into the religious observation of the holydays, 
since this is certainly the prima ratio legis, but very 
burdensome and expensive to lieges. I hear endeavours will be used 
to alter the law. --Robert Wodrow (minister and Scottish church 
historian), Letter to Mr. John Williamson (1713).

The restoring of the Yule vacance, abolished at the Revolution, as 
it carries in it a studied reflection upon the Reformation then attained 
unto, so it is most senseless and superstitious in itself, an occasion 
of much debauchery, and a great prejudice to the lieges, by stopping 
the courts of justice; and it is most evident, that this and sundry 
other things were hatched and promoted by ill-affected persons or 
Jacobites, sent from among ourselves, for no other reason but merely 
out of wantonness, to kick at our constitution, at the Revolution, 
and at the glorious reign of King William our deliverer. --Robert 
Wylie (minister, Church of Scotland) et al., Memorial of Grievances 
to be Presented to the King (1714).

1. We think God has appointed one certain day in the week, for the 
thankful remembrance of those mercies, which he has in common bestowed 
upon us. Upon that therefore, as often as it returns, all Christians 
are bound to employ themselves in meditating upon God's works of creation 
and redemption, in praising God, and in other religious exercises. 
Hence we judge it needless for men, by their authority, to appoint 
other days of the same nature; and desire them, who usurp such a power, 
to produce the commission they have for it.

2. It seems probable to us, that God would not have us observe these 
yearly Holidays; because we meet with nothing in his word, whereby 
we can fix the times of the year, when those things happened, which 
our Adversaries pretend are the occasion of them. --James Peirce 
(Nonconformist minister, Exon, England), A Vindication of the 
Dissenters (1718).

Albeit there be an Act of Assembly 1645. Sess. ult. Ordering 
all the Observers of superstitious Days, particularly Yule, &c.--to 
be proceeded against by Kirk-Censure--the Guilty to make publick 
Repentance for the same--before the Congregation where the Offence 
is committed--Presbyteries--and Synods, to take particular Notice 
how Ministers--censure Delinquents of this Kind, within the several 
Parishes, &c. Yet this seems to be gone into Desuetude, seeing, 
not only Masters of Schools and Colleges 

are accessory to this superstitious Prophanity--by 
granting Liberty or Vacancy to their Scholars at such Times; for which, 
by Virtue of this Act, they ought to be summoned before 
the Assembly, and censured according to their Trespass. But even the 
Elders of this Church [the author means 
the Revolution Church--the Church of Scotland], in many Places, 
are guilty of observing Yule, and such as are ordinarily 
Communicants, with Numbers of others in closs Communion 
with this Church, and yet never one of these censured, but connived 
at. And what if I should say, too many Ministers homologate 
this sinful Custom? whereby, through Ministers Unfaithfulness, a young 
up-rising Generation are left in Ignorance about the Sinfulness of 
that, and other superstitious Days, &c. too, too much in Fashion in 
our declining Days. --Andrew Clarkson (acting as clerk and compiler 
for the United Societies, i.e., the Covenanters), Plain Reasons 
for Presbyterians Dissenting from the Revolution-Church in Scotland (1731).

Dissenters . . . reject the consecrating churches, chapels, 
cathedrals, priests, garments, altars, liturgies, singing service, 
litanies, bowings, crossings, cringings, holy days, fasts, feasts, 
vigils, because not one word of any of them is contained in our only 
rule of faith. --Thomas DeLaune (English Nonconformist Baptist), 
A Plea for the Non-Conformists (1733).

 [I]nstead of making progress in a work of reformation, we came in 
a short time to fall under the weight of some new and 
very heavy grievances: As for instance. . . . Countenance 
is also given to a superstitious observation of holy-days, 
by the vacation of our most considerable civil courts, 
in the latter end of December. --Ebenezer 
Erskine, William Wilson, Alexander Moncrieff, and James Fisher (founding 
ministers of the Secession [Associate Presbyterian Church]), A 
Testimony to the Doctrine, Worship, Government and Discipline of the 
Church of Scotland (1734).

Q. Hath God appointed any other set times to be kept holy to 
the Lord, besides the sabbath?

A. None but the Jewish festivals or ceremonial sabbaths, which being 
only shadows of things to come, they expired with Christ's coming; 
but the command for the weekly sabbath being moral, it continues still 
in force, Col. 2:16,17; Gal. 4:9-11; 1 Cor. 16:1,2.

Q. Are we bound to keep the holy-days observed by others, such 
as days for Christ's birth, passion and ascension; days dedicated 
to angels, as Michaelmas; to the virgin Mary, as Candlemas; besides 
many others dedicated to the apostles and other saints?

A. Though it be pretended that these days serve to promote piety and 
devotion, yet we have no warrant from God to observe any of them; 
nay, it appears to be unlawful to do it: for 1st, God doth quarrel 
men for using any device of their own for promoting his service or 
worship, without having his command or warrant for it, as in Deut. 
12:32; Isa. 1:12; Jer. 7:30. 2ndly, the apostle Paul doth expressly 
condemn the Galatians for observing such holy days, Gal. 4:10,11. 
3dly, It is a disparaging of the Lord's day which God hath appointed, 
and a usurping of his legislative power, for men to set days of their 
appointing on a level with his day, as the institutors do, by hindering 
people to labor thereupon. 4thly, It is an idolatrous practice to 
consecrate days to the honor of saints and angels, for commemorating 
their acts, and publishing their praise; such honor and worship being 
due to God alone.

Q. Were not these days appointed by the ancient church, and 
authorized by great and holy men?

A. It was will-worship in them, seeing they had no power to institute 
holy-days: for, 1st, Under the law, when ceremonies and festivals 
were in use, the church appointed none of them, but God himself. 2dly, 
We read nothing of the apostles appointing or observing such holy-days; 
not a word of their consecrating a day for Christ's birth, his passion, 
or ascension; nor a day to Stephen the proto-martyr, nor to James, 
whom Herod killed with the sword. We read of the apostles observing 
the Lord's day, and keeping it holy, but not of any other. 3dly, These 
other days are left unrecorded, and uncertain, and so are concealed 
like the body of Moses, that men might not be tempted to abuse them 
to superstition. 4thly, These days have not the divine blessing upon 
them; for they are the occasions of much looseness and immorality. 
5thly, Though the observing of these days had been indifferent or 
lawful at first, yet the defiling of them with superstition and intemperance 
should make all forbear them. --John Willison (minister, Church 
of Scotland), An Example of Plain Catechising, Upon the Assembly's 
Shorter Catechism (1737).

Q. May the church appoint holy days, to remember Christ's 
birth, death, temptation, ascension, &c.?--A. No; as God hath abolished 
the Jewish holy days of his own appointment, so he hath given no warrant 
to the church to appoint any: but hath commanded us to labour six 
days, except when Providence calls us to humiliation or thanksgiving; 
and expressly forbids us to observe holy days of men's appointment, 
Col. 2:16; Gal. 4:10,11.

Q. What is the difference between a fast day and a holy day?--A. 
The day of a fast is changeable, and esteemed no better in itself 
than another day; but a holy day is fixed to a certain time of the 
week, year, or moon, and reckoned better in itself. --John Brown, 
of Haddington (minister and professor, Associate [Presbyterian] Burgher 
Synod), An Essay Towards an Easy, Plain, Practical, and Extensive 
Explication of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism (1758).

Not to insist further in enumerating particulars, the presbytery finally 
testify [sic] against church and state, for their negligence 
to suppress impiety, vice, and superstitious observance of holy days, 
&c. The civil powers herein acting directly contrary to the nature 
and perverting the very ends of the magistrate's office, which is 
to be custos et vindex utriusque tabulae; the minister 
of God, a revenger, to execute wrath on him that doeth evil. Transgressors 
of the first table of the law may now sin openly with impunity; and, 
while the religious observation of the sabbath is not regarded, the 
superstitious observation of holy days, even in Scotland, 
is so much authorized, that on some of them the most considerable 
courts of justice are discharged to sit. --The Reformed Presbytery 
(Covenanters), Act, Declaration, and Testimony, for the Whole 
of our Covenanted Reformation, as Attained to, and Established in 
Britain and Ireland, Particularly Betwixt the Years 1638 and 1649, 
Inclusive. As, Also, Against all the Steps of Defection from Said 
Reformation, Whether in Former or Latter Times, Since the Overthrow 
of that Glorious Work, Down to this Present Day (1761).

Q. Is there any warrant for anniversary, or stated holidays, 
now, under the New Testament?

A. No: these under the Old, being abrogated by the death 
and resurrection of Christ, there is neither precept nor example in 
scripture, for any of the yearly holidays observed by Papists, and 
others: on the contrary, all such days are condemned in bulk, Gal. 
4:10; Col. 2:16,17.

Q. What crimes doth the observation of them import?

A. The observation of them imports no less than an impeachment 
of the institutions of God, concerning his worship, as if they were 
imperfect; and an encroachment upon the liberty wherewith Christ hath 
made his church and people free, Col. 3:20. --James Fisher (minister, 
Associate [Presbyterian] Burgher Synod), Westminster Assembly's 
Shorter Catechism Explained (1765).

The public worship of God is grievously corrupted, in England and Ireland,
--by a multitude of superstitious inventions. . . . A great many 
devised holidays, saints days, fasts and festivals, are likewise observed; 
with peculiar offices for the same. --Adam Gib (minister, Associate 
[Presbyterian] Anti-Burgher), The Present Truth: A Display of the 
Secession Testimony, Vol. 2 (1774).

Men cannot, without sin, appoint any holy days. (1.) God has marked 
the weekly sabbath with peculiar honour, in his command 
and word. But, if men appoint holy days, they detract from its honour; 
and wherever holy days of men's appointment are much observed, God's 
weekly sabbath is much profaned, Ex. 20:8; Ezek. 43:8. (2.) God never 
could have abolished his own ceremonial holy days, in order that men 
might appoint others of their own invention, in their room, Col. 2:16-23; 
Gal. 4:10,11. (3.) God alone can bless holy days, and render them 
effectual to promote holy purposes; and we have no hint in his word, 
that he will bless any appointed by men, Ex. 20:11. (4.) By permitting, 
if not requiring us, to labour six days of the week in 
our worldly employments, this commandment excludes all holy days of 
men's appointment; Ex. 20:8,9. If it permit six days 
for our worldly labour, we ought to stand fast in that liberty with 
which Christ hath made us free, Gal. 5:1; 1 Cor. 7:23; Matt. 15:9. 
If it require them, we ought to obey God rather than 
men, Acts 4:19; 5:29.--Days of occasional fasting and thanksgiving 
are generally marked out by the providence of God: and the observation 
of them does not suppose any holiness in the day itself, Joel 1:14; 
2:15; Acts 13:2; 14:23; Matt. 9:15. --John Brown, of Haddington 
(minister and professor, Associate [Presbyterian] Burgher Synod), 
A Compendious View of Natural and Revealed Religion (1796).

We therefore condemn the following errors, and testify 
against all who maintain them:

1. "That any part of time is appointed in divine revelation, or 
may be appointed by the church, to be kept holy, in its weekly, monthly, 
or annual returns, except the first day of the week, which is the 
Christian Sabbath." --Reformed Presbyterian Church in America 
(Covenanters), Reformation Principles Exhibited (1806).

That the Lord's day is the only day appointed by God to be kept holy, 
though he allows us to set days apart, on proper occasions, for fasting 
and thanksgiving. Those days which, by men now under the New Testament 
are called festival or holy days, have no warrant from the word, and 
are superstitious. Ex. 20:8; Matt. 9:14,15; 28:20; Col. 2:20-23; Matt. 
15:7-9. --Reformed Dissenting Presbytery, An Act, Declaration 
and Testimony, of the Reformed Dissenting Presbyterian Church, in 
North America (1808).

It is our duty to attend faithfully and industriously to that secular 
business which is incumbent on us, during the six last days of the 
week, and not to institute or observe sabbaths of human invention; 
that we may be prepared for the sanctification of the Lord's sabbath. 
"Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work." Gal. 4:10,11. 
"Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 
I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed labour upon you in vain." 
--Ezra Stiles Ely (pastor, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), 
A Synopsis of Didactic Theology (1822).

[The Waldenses] contemn all approved ecclesiastical customs which 
they do not read of in the gospel, such as the observance of Candlemas, 
Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and the feast of Easter. . . . 
--William Sime, History of the Waldenses (1827).

Under the old dispensation, there were a number of days appointed 
for ceremonial observances. The Jews kept thirty-five in the year, 
but of these some fell on the Sabbath. While the Mosaic economy lasted, 
and while they remained in Palestine, these were to be observed; but 
at the death of Christ they passed away. Hence the apostle says to 
the primitive Christians, "Let no man judge you in meat, or in 
drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the 
Sabbath day" (Col. 2:16), or the Jewish Sabbath, on the seventh 
day of the week, which was now merged in the first. This shews how 
little they understand the liberty of the gospel, who prescribe for 
the observance of Christians, a variety of holy days, which are unauthorized 
in Scripture, and are found in experience to be lost in idleness, 
or abused in folly. Such days, originating in secular policy, or superstitious 
excitement, may be marked by names and rites solemn and imposing; 
yet, wanting the sanction of Jehovah, and the animating breath of 
heaven, they are soon disregarded as empty forms, hated as encumbrances 
on public industry, and welcomed only by those whose situation makes 
them wish for a season and a pretext for amusement and dissipation. 
--Henry Belfrage (minister, Associate [Presbyterian] Burgher Synod), 
A Practical Exposition of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism (1834).

[M]en have no right to institute holidays, which return as regularly 
at certain intervals as the Sabbath does in the beginning of the week. 
This is an assumption of authority which God has not delegated to 
them. Holidays are an encroachment upon the time of which he has made 
a free gift to men for their worldly affairs. . . . --John 
Dick (minister, United Associate Congregation; professor, United Secession 
Theological Seminary), Lectures on Theology (1835).

We believe that the Scriptures not only do not warrant the observance 
of such days [i.e., "holy" days], but that they positively 
discountenance it. Let any one impartially weigh Colossians 2:16, 
and also, Galatians 4:9-11; and then say whether these passages do 
not evidently indicate, that the inspired Apostle disapproved of the 
observance of such days. --Samuel Miller (professor, Princeton 
Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), Presbyterianism: 
The Truly Primitive and Apostolic Constitution of the Church of Christ 


[W]e testify against the celebration of Christmas, or other festivals 
of the Papal or Episcopal church. --Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian 
Church of Scotland, Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church 
in Scotland: Historical and Doctrinal (1837).

From what has been said, we may infer that this passage of Scripture 
gives no countenance to religious festivals, or holidays of human 
appointment, especially under the New Testament. Feasts appear to 
have been connected with sacrifices from the most ancient times; but 
the observance of them was not brought under any fixed rules until 
the establishment of the Mosaic law. Religious festivals formed a 
noted and splendid part of the ritual of that law; but they were only 
designed to be temporary; and having served their end in commemorating 
certain great events connected with the Jewish commonwealth, and in 
typifying certain mysteries now clearly revealed by the gospel, they 
ceased, and, along with other figures, vanished away. To retain these, 
or to return them after the promulgation of the Christian law, or 
to imitate them by instituting festivals of a similar kind, is to 
doat on shadows--to choose weak and beggarly elements--to bring 
ourselves under a yoke of bondage which the Jews were unable to bear, 
and interpretatively to fall from grace and the truth of the gospel. 
"Ye observe days and months, and times and years. I am afraid 
of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." "Let 
no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of 
an holiday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are 
a shadow of things to come." Shall we suppose that Christ and 
his apostles, in abrogating those days which God himself had appointed 
to be observed, without instituting others in their room, intended 
that either churches or individuals should be allowed to substitute 
whatever they pleased in their room? Yet the Christian church soon 
degenerated so far as to bring herself under a severer bondage than 
that from which Christ had redeemed her, and instituted a greater 
number of festivals than were observed under the Mosaic law, or even 
among pagans.

To seek a warrant for days of religious commemoration under the gospel 
from the Jewish festivals, is not only to overlook the distinction 
between the old and new dispensations, but to forget that the Jews 
were never allowed to institute such memorials for themselves, but 
simply to keep those which infinite Wisdom had expressly and by name 
set apart and sanctified. The prohibitory sanction is equally strict 
under both Testaments: "What thing soever I command you, observe 
to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."

There are times when God calls, on the one hand, to religious fasting, 
or, on the other, to thanksgiving and religious joy; and it is our 
duty to comply with these calls, and to set apart time for the respective 
exercises. But this is quite a different thing from recurrent or anniversary 
holidays. In the former case the day is chosen for the duty, in the 
latter the duty is performed for the day; in the former case there 
is no holiness on the day but what arises from the service which is 
performed on it, and when the same day afterwards recurs, it is as 
common as any other day; in the latter case the day is set apart on 
all following times, and may not be employed for common or secular 
purposes. Stated and recurring festivals countenance the false principle, 
that some days have a peculiar sanctity, either inherent or impressed 
by the works which occurred on them; they proceed on an undue assumption 
of human authority; interfere with the free use of that time which 
the Creator hath granted to man; detract from the honour due to the 
day of sacred rest which he hath appointed; lead to impositions over 
conscience; have been the fruitful source of superstition and idolatry; 
and have been productive of the worst effects upon morals, in every 
age, and among every people, barbarous and civilized, pagan and Christian, 
popish and protestant, among whom they have been observed. On these 
grounds they were rejected from the beginning, among other corruptions 
of antichrist, by the reformed church of Scotland, which allowed no 
stated religious days but the Christian Sabbath. --Thomas M'Crie 
(minister, Associate Anti-Burgher/Constitutional Associate Presbytery; 
author and church historian), Lectures on the Book of Esther (1838).

It is notorious, that wherever other days than the Sabbath are religiously 
observed, there that holy day is less strictly observed than its nature 
demands--less strictly than it is generally observed by those who 
regard it as the only set time which God has commanded 
to be kept holy. It is also notorious, that holy days, as they are 
called, are times at which every species of vice and disorder is more 
flagrantly and more generally indulged in, than at any other time; 
so that these days are really and highly injurious to civil society, 
as well as an encroachment on the prerogative of God. --Ashbel 
Green (minister, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), Lectures 
on the Shorter Catechism (1841).

Stated festival-days, commonly called holy-days, have 
no warrant in the Word of God; but a day may be set apart, by competent 
authority, for fasting or thanksgiving when extraordinary dispensations 
of Providence administer cause for them. When judgments are threatened 
or inflicted, or when some special blessing is to be sought and obtained, 
fasting is eminently seasonable. --Robert Shaw (minister, Free 
Church of Scotland), An Exposition of the Confession of Faith (1845).

Is it innocent and allowable to observe the Passover, (or Easter), 
the Pentecost, or the Nativity of our Saviour, (Christmas) . . . ? 
Ans. No; Not even when the observance is left optional with the people; 
because, (1.) The Passover and the Pentecost are, by the introduction 
of the new dispensation, laid aside, as typical observances. (2.) 
The observance of them was partly in accommodation to the early Jewish 
believers, partly to please pagans with outward parade of worship, 
in compensation for the loss of their heathen observances, and partly 
by a declining church, that wished to substitute outward worship for 
that which is spiritual. (3.) There is no need of them in order to 
promote religion. The observance of them is will-worship, and will 
tend to the decline of religion. (4.) Christmas, or the Nativity, 
is unauthorized. The time is utterly unknown, being left in impenetrable 
darkness by the Holy Spirit in the divine records; and no doubt this 
was done because the knowledge of it was unnecessary, and in order 
to repress will-worship. In a word, while fast-days are appointed 
on account of the duty to be performed, in set days, or periodical 
days, the duty is observed on account of the day; and therefore the 
day must be of divine appointment, or it is sinful.--Abraham Anderson 
(minister and professor, Associate Presbyterian Church), Lectures 
on Theology (1851).

Under the Jewish economy there were other set times and modes of worship, 
which were abolished when the Christian economy was introduced. Since 
then no holidays (holy days) but the Sabbath, are of 
divine authority or obligation. . . . --James R. Boyd (minister, 
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), The Westminster Shorter 
Catechism (1854).

To those who believe in this form of regimen [keeping the Sabbath 
as a holy day of rest] it forms "the golden hours" of time; 
and finding no command nor fair deduction from Scripture warranting 
them to keep any other day, whether (in honor of the Saxon goddess 
Eostre, that is, the Prelatic) "Easter," "the Holy Innocents," 
or of "St. Michael and all the angels," they believe that 
"festival days, vulgarly called holydays, having 
no warrant in the word of God, are not to be observed." --Alexander 
Blaikie (minister, Associate Reformed Church), The Philosophy 
of Sectarianism (1854).

No human power can make it unlawful for men to pursue their industrial 
avocations during the six secular days. The New Testament plainly 
discourages the attempt to fill up the calendar with holidays, Gal. 
4:9-11; Col. 2:16-23. Even days of fasting or thanksgiving are not 
holy days; but they are a part of secular time voluntarily devoted 
to God's service. And if we are to perform these things at all, we 
must take some time for them. Yet none but God can sanctify a day 
so as to make it holy. The attempt to do this was one of the sins 
of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12:33. --William S. Plumer (professor, Columbia 
Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.), The 
Law of God, As Contained in the Ten Commandments (1864).

In keeping the last day of the week as a day of religious observance, 
the Jews, by the very act, expressed their religious acknowledgment 
of God, who had appointed it, and did an act of worship to Him as 
its author, in the character of one Creator who made the heavens and 
the earth. In keeping the first day of the week now, Christians, by 
the very act, recognise Christ as the author of it, and do homage 
to Him as the one Redeemer, who on that day rose from the dead, and 
secured the salvation of His people. . . . And who does not see, that 
upon the very same principle the observance of holidays appointed 
by the Church, as ordinary and stated parts of Divine worship, is 
an expression of religious homage to man, who is the author of the 
appointment,--an unlawful acknowledgment of human or ecclesiastical 
authority in an act of worship. In keeping, after a religious sort, 
a day that has no authority but man's, we are paying a religious homage 
to that authority; we are bowing down, in the very act of our observance 
of the days as part of worship, not to Christ, who has not appointed 
it, but to the Church, which has. We are keeping the season holy, 
not to God, but to man. --James Bannerman (professor, New College, 
Free Church of Scotland), The Church of Christ (1869).

Festival days, vulgarly called holy days, having no warrant in the 
word of God, are not to be observed. --Synod of the Associate Reformed 
Church in North America, The Constitution and Standards of the 
Associate Reformed Church in North America (1874).

The [Dutch] Reformed churches had been in the habit of keeping Christmas, 
Easter and Whitsuntide [Pentecost] as days of religious worship. The 
synod [Provincial Synod of Dordrecht, 1574] enjoined the churches 
to do this no longer, but to be satisfied with Sundays for divine 
service. --Maurice G. Hansen (historian, Reformed Church in America), 
The Reformed Church in the Netherlands (1884).

To take the ground that the church has a discretionary power to appoint 
other holy days and other symbolical rites is to concede to Rome the 
legitimacy of her five superfluous sacraments and all her self-devised 
paraphernalia of sacred festivals. There is no middle ground. Either 
we are bound by the Lord's appointments in his Word, or human discretion 
is logically entitled to the full-blown license of Rome. --John 
L. Girardeau (professor, Columbia Theological Seminary, Presbyterian 
Church in the U.S.), Instrumental Music in the Public Worship 
of the Church (1888).

The Protestant Church is fast returning to the heathen ceremonies 
of the Church of Rome, vieing with her in the observance of "Easter 
Sunday," etc. By means of Christmas trees, Santa Claus is becoming 
a greater reality and the object of more affection to children than 
the Saviour himself. --Reformed Presbyterian Church (Covenanter), 
Minutes of the General Meeting (1889).

That Christians did observe sacred days in the apostle's time these 
writers [i.e., those who deny the divine sanction and authority of 
the Lord's day] admit, and also that the usage was approved. But they 
say it was not founded on any divine authority; the apostle had just 
repealed all that. Then on whose authority? That of the uninspired 
church. Their view, then, is that the apostle, sweeping away all Sabbaths 
and Lord's days, invites Christians to ascend to his lofty and devoted 
experience, which had no use for a set Sabbath because all his days 
were consecrated. But as it was found that this did not suit the actual 
Christian state of most Christians, human authority was allowed, and 
even encouraged, to appoint Sundays, Easters and Whitsuntides for 
them. The objections are: first, that this countenances 'will-worship,' 
or the intrusion of man's inventions into God's service; second, it 
is an implied insult to Paul's inspiration, assuming that he made 
a practical blunder, which the church synods, wiser than his inspiration, 
had to mend by a human expedient; and third, we have here a practical 
confession that, after all, the average New Testament Christian does 
need a stated holy day, and therefore the ground of the Sabbath command 
is perpetual and moral. --Robert L. Dabney (professor, Union Theological 
Seminary, Virginia; Theological School at Austin, Texas; University 
of Texas; Presbyterian Church in the U.S.), "The Christian Sabbath," 
in Discussions, Vol. 1 (1890).

[T]hose who quote those portions of Scripture in opposition to the 
idea of a divine obligation on Christians to observe the Sabbath are 
found for the most part, in one section of the Church, and as members 
or dignitaries therein they are very far from being consistent. Their 
reasoning on behalf of their theory and their practice are diametrically 
opposed. If the Apostle Paul were permitted to revisit earth, we might 
imagine him addressing them somewhat after the following manner:--'Ye 
men of a half-reformed Church, ye observe days and times. Ye have 
a whole calendar of so-called saints' days. Ye observe a Holy Thursday 
and a Good Friday. Ye have a time called Easter, and a season called 
Lent, about which some of you make no small stir. Ye have a day regarded 
especially holy, named Christmas, observed at a manifestly wrong season 
of the year, and notoriously grafted on an old Pagan festival. And 
all this while many of you refuse to acknowledge the continued obligation 
of the Fourth Commandment. I am afraid of you, lest the instruction 
contained in my epistle, as well as in other parts of Scripture, has 
been bestowed upon you in vain.' --Robert Nevin (minister, Reformed 
Presbyterian Church in Ireland and editor of the Covenanter 
Magazine in Ireland), Misunderstood Scriptures (1893).

Q. 49. What are some of the festival seasons of the Church of 

A. They are very numerous; among them the following are the most prominent:
--Christmas, Lady Day, Lent, Easter, and the Feast of the Assumption.

Q. 50. What is the meaning of Christmas?

A. It is a festival held on the 25th of December, in honour of the 
birth of Christ. On this day three Masses are performed: one at midnight, 
one at daybreak, and one in the morning.

Q. 51 When was this festival introduced?

A. The spurious decretals attributed its institution to Telesphorus, 
Bishop of Rome, in the first half of the second century; but the Fathers 
of the first three centuries make no mention of it.

Q. 52. What is its most probable origin?

A. That it was not Christian is manifest from the fact that the day 
on which the feast is observed could not have been the day of Christ's 
birth, inasmuch as from December to February is the cold and rainy 
season in Palestine, when the shepherds could not have been "keeping 
watch over their flocks by night." The festival is to be traced 
partly to the tendency in the fourth century to multiply such seasons, 
and, by introducing a festival for each period in Christ's life, to 
complete "the Christian year," and partly to the growing tendency 
in the church to conciliate the heathen by adopting their religious 

Q. 53. Are there any features in the Christmas festival that 
point to a Pagan origin?

A. There are several: the name, the time of its observance, and the 
ceremonies associated with it. 

Q. 54. Explain these features in detail.

A. The name "Yule Day," given to Christmas, is Pagan. According 
to some the word Yule is derived from huel, a wheel, and was meant 
to designate the Pagan sun feast in commemoration of the turn of the 
sun and the lengthening of the day. According to others it was the 
Chaldee name for "infant," and was meant to designate the 
feast in honour of the birth of the son of the Babylonian Queen of 
Heaven. The time indicates a Pagan origin, for it was at the time 
of the winter solstice that the Pagan festival just referred to was 
celebrated. The ceremonies of the "Drunken festival" of Babylon 
have their counterpart in the wassail bowl and the revels that in 
all Popish countries have been characteristic of Christmas.

Q. 55. Is this festival warranted in Scripture?

A. No. The Scriptures are silent regarding the day and month of Christ's 
birth, and it is admitted by the best writers that the precise day 
cannot now be ascertained from any source. Christ commanded His disciples 
to commemorate His death, but He gave no command concerning 
His birth. --John M'Donald (minister, Reformed Presbyterian 
Church of Scotland; member, Scottish Reformation Society), Romanism 
Analysed in the Light of Scripture, Reason, and History (1894).

There is a ritualism against which George Gillespie delivered a destructive 
blow by his work on "English-Popish Ceremonies Obtruded on the 
(Reformed) Church of Scotland"--the ritualism of saints' days 
and holy days--and in which he described these and other ceremonies 
as the "twigs and spriggs of Popish superstition." These and 
other similar rites and ceremonies have been repudiated by the Presbyterianism 
of this northern kingdom without a dissentient voice for the last 
300 years. . . . If a number of ministers in Presbyterian charges 
where no ritualism exists were to resolve to ritualise and Romanise 
their congregations, could they adopt better measures than those in 
operation by ritualists? Their plan of campaign would be marked by 
the following stages at considerable intervals:--adverse comments 
on the simplicity of the worship observed; . . . introduction of saints' 
days and holy days, including Ash Wednesday, Maunday Thursday, Good 
Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday; . . . Would they not be 
toying all this time with the trinkets of Babylon? --Dr. James 
Kerr (pastor, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland), "The 
Scriptural Doctrines Violated by Ritualism," in Romanism 
and Ritualism in Great Britain and Ireland (1895).

[Things forbidden by the fourth commandment]: The erection and regular 
observance of other holy days. Had God seen their regular recurrence 
was desirable they would have been appointed. Their use has been spiritually 
damaging. They often become centers of ceremonialism and sensual worship. 
--J. A. Grier, (professor, Allegheny Theological Seminary, United 
Presbyterian Church), Synoptical Lectures on Theological Subjects (1896).

There is no warrant in Scripture for the observance of Christmas and 
Easter as holy days, rather the contrary (see Gal. 4:9-11; Col. 2:16-21), 
and such observance is contrary to the principles of the Reformed 
Faith, conducive to will worship, and not in harmony with the simplicity 
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. --General Assembly of the Presbyterian 
Church in the United States (Southern Presbyterians), Deliverance 
on Christmas and Easter (1899).

Q. 7. Is it not a daring intrusion upon the prerogative of God to 
appoint as a stated religious festival any other day or season, such 
as Christmas or Easter?

A. It is an impeachment of the wisdom of God and an assertion of our 
right and ability to improve on his plans. --James Harper (professor, 
Xenia Theological Seminary, United Presbyterian Church), An 
Exposition in the Form of Question and Answer of the Westminster Assembly's 
Shorter Catechism (1905).

The observance of Holy Days had been rejected at the Reformation, 
and the people of Scotland desired no change [as mandated by the Perth 
Articles passed in 1618]. . . . An Order in June 1619 commanded 
universal obedience to the Articles. . . . So strong was the 
opposition that little impression was made by such proceedings. . . . 
The general result was that only a small minority, and these chiefly 
official persons, kneeled at Communion or observed Easter or Christmas; 
even this was due simply out of deference to the king's wishes. --Sheriff 
Orr, Alexander Henderson: Churchman and Statesman (1919).

Festival days, commonly called holy-days, having no warrant in the 
Word, are not to be observed. --Associate Reformed Presbyterian 
Synod, Constitution of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (1937).

In former times the Reformed Presbyterian Church was solidly opposed 
to the religious observance of Christmas, Easter and other special 
days of the same kind. . . . [W]e should realize that we Covenanters, 
in opposing the observance of Easter and other "holy" days, 
are only holding to the original principle which was once held by 
all Presbyterians everywhere. It is not the Covenanters 
that have changed. . . . [T]he apostle Paul regards this observance 
of days as a bad tendency: "I am afraid of (for) you, lest I have bestowed upon you 
labor in vain.". . . Paul wondered what was wrong with their 
religious knowledge and experience, that they should have become so zealous 
for the observance of days. --J. G. Vos (minister, Reformed Presbyterian 
Church of North America), "The Observance of Days" in Blue Banner 
Faith and Life (1947).

Here I am alone in the library and apparently everyone has gone from 
Machen Hall until Friday morning. Now it is 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. 
You may think this dismal. Well, I love it. It is a delightful change 
from the usual stir. I have had two good days in the Library. Monday 
was taken up with committee meetings, forenoon and afternoon. I hope 
to be here all day tomorrow. I have not even accepted a dinner engagement 
for what they call 'Christmas.' I hate the whole business. --John 
Murray (professor, Westminster Seminary, Orthodox Presbyterian Church), 
"Letter to Valerie Knowlton, Dec. 24, 1958," in Collected 
Writings, Vol. 3 (1958).

1. What was originally the conviction of the churches in regard 
to the holy days?
The Reformers such as Calvin, Farel, Viret, Bucer and John Knox were 
opposed to observing the holy days.

2. What were their motives for this?
a. That they were not divine but human institutions.
b. That they brushed aside the importance of Sunday.
c. That they gave occasion to licentious and heathen festivities.

3. What then did they prefer in regard to preaching the facts 
of Christ's birth, death, etc.?
That it be done on regular Sundays. On the Sunday before Christmas 
the Christmas story was preached, etc.

4. How is it then that the ecclesiastical synods still made provision 
for the observance of the holy days?
a. They did so as a concession to the Authorities, which clung tenaciously 
to the holy days as vacation days for the people.
b. The churches permitted the ministers to preach on these holy days 
in order to change a useless and unprofitable idleness into a holy 
and profitable exercise.--K. DeGier (minister, Netherlands Reformed Church, 
the Hague; teacher, Theological School at Rotterdam), Explanation of the 
Church Order of Dordt (1968).

It is just this attitude of indifference to the Constitution that 
has brought us to the state we are in in the P.C.U.S. Whereas, earlier, 
as is reflected in the 1899 deliverance about Christmas and Easter, 
there was meticulous concern for staying with the standards, and the 
strict interpretation of Scripture on even such a matter as these 
two days. Now there is a complete reversal to the point of adopting 
the liturgical calendar of past tradition, without any Biblical basis. 
--Morton Smith (professor, Greenville Theological Seminary, Presbyterian 
Church in America), How is the Gold Become Dim (1973).

Holy Days. The Free Presbyterian Church rejects the modern 
custom becoming so prevalent in the Church of Scotland, of observing 
Christmas and Easter. It regards the observance of these days as symptomatic 
of the trend in the Church of Scotland towards closer relations with 
Episcopacy. At the time of the Reformation in Scotland all these festivals 
were cast out of the Church as things that were not only unnecessary 
but unscriptural. --Committee appointed by the Synod of the Free 
Presbyterian Church, History of the Free Presbyterian Church 
of Scotland. 1893-1970 (ca. 1974).

Recently denominations that never had calendars before were induced 
by the National Council of Churches to adopt the practice. . . . 
How can such non-biblical forms of worship be defended? The Puritan 
principle, that is, the Biblical command, is that in worship we should 
neither add to nor subtract from the divine requirements. . . .
[Professor] James Benjamin Green, Studies in the Holy Spirit (Revell, 1936), 
has urged Christians to celebrate Pentecost: "There are three great days in the 
Christian year: Christmas, Easter, and Whitsunday, and we are not true to 
our faith when we allow Whitsunday to fall into the background. . . . 

It has ranked with Christmas and Easter. The three together 
are the three throned days of the Christian year."

It is amazing that a professor in a Presbyterian seminary should be 
so Romish and anti-Reformed. Scripture gives us our rules for worship, 
and, to repeat, from them we should not subtract, nor to them should 
we add. We should turn neither to the left nor to the right. Now, 
Scripture does not authorize us to celebrate Pentecost. The same is 
true of Christmas. It began as a drunken orgy and continues so today 
in office parties. The Puritans even made its celebration a civil 
offense. And yet an argument for celebrating Pentecost was, "Don't 
all Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter?" No, they do not. 
My father's family and church never celebrated Christmas, nor did 
the two Blanchard administrations in Wheaton College. But what about 
Easter? Surely we must celebrate Easter, shouldn't we? Yes indeed, 
we should, as the Scripture commands, not just once a year in the 
spring, but fifty-two times a year. --Gordon H. Clark (professor, 
Covenant College, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod), 
The Holy Spirit (1993).

Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter are Romish sacred days. By this 
we mean that they have their source in Roman Catholic tradition, rather 
than in Scripture. . . . [T]here have been times in the history 
of the Reformed churches when the truth on the subject of sacred days 
received reverent attention. Already, before John Calvin arrived in 
Geneva at the time of the great Reformation, the observance of Romish 
sacred days had been discontinued there. This had been done under 
the leadership of Guillaume Farel and Peter Viret. But Calvin was 
in hearty agreement. It is well known that when these traditional 
days came along on the calendar, Calvin did not pay the slightest 
attention to them. He just went right on with his exposition of whatever 
book of the Bible he happened to be expounding. The Reformers, Knox 

and Zwingli, agreed with Calvin. So did the entire Reformed church 
of Scotland and Holland. At the Synod of Dort in 1574 it was agreed 
that the weekly Sabbath alone should be observed, and that the observance 
of all other days should be discouraged. This faithful Biblical practice 
was later compromised. But that does not change the fact that the 
Reformed churches originally stood for the biblical principle. The 
original stand of the Reformed churches was Scriptural. That is the 
important thing. --G. I. Williamson (minister, Orthodox Presbyterian 
Church), On the Observance of Sacred Days (n.d.).


1 Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), chap. I, sec. 6.

2 An instance of historical example is Lord's day public worship. There 
is no explicit command or divine imperative changing public worship 
from the seventh day (Saturday) to the first day (Sunday) of the week, 
recorded in Scripture. Yet in the New Testament, the change from the 
seventh day to the first day is recorded as an accomplished fact 
(Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2, Rev. 1:10). Not every divine command or 
prophetic word has been inscripturated (i.e., included in the Bible). 
The universal practice of the apostolic church, such as Lord's day 
public worship, is binding because of the unique authority given to 
the apostles (by direct revelation). When the apostles died, direct 
revelation ceased and the canon was closed, and now our doctrine, 
worship, and all historical examples are limited to the Bible, the 
Word of God. Those who appeal to church traditions, invented 
after the closing of the canon, for authority in establishing worship 
ordinances are, in principle, no better than Jeroboam the son of 
Nebat (1 Ki. 12: 26-33).

3 James H. Thornwell, Collected Writings (Richmond: Presbyterian 
Committee of Publication, 1872), 2:l63.

4 Chap. XXI, sec. 1. 

5 Thomas E. Peck, Miscellanies (Richmond: Presbyterian Committee 
of Publication, 1895), 1:82.

 6 "The first idea contained in them, is that they are religious duties, 
prescribed by God, as an instituted method in which he will be 
worshipped by his creatures. . . . Now, the ordinances, 
as thus described, must be engaged in according to a divine appointment. 
No creature has a warrant to enjoin any modes of worship, pretending 
that these will be acceptable or well-pleasing to God; since God alone, 
who is the object of worship, has a right to prescribe the way in 
which he will be worshipped. For a creature to institute modes of 
worship would be an instance of profaneness and bold presumption; 
and the worship performed would be 'in vain'; as our Saviour says 
concerning that which has no higher sanction than 'the commandments 
of men' " (Thomas Ridgely, A Body of Divinity [New York: 1855], 2:433.)

7 Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel-Worship (London: Peter Cole, 1650), pp. 2-3.

8 Ibid., pp. 9-10. 

9 William G. Blaikie, Commentary on Second Samuel (New York: A.C. 
Armstrong and Son, 1893), p. 88.

10 Samuel H. Kellogg, The Book of Leviticus (New York: Hodder and 
Stoughton, n.d.), p. 240.


11 Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 
[1692]1881), p. 267.

12 Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), chap. XXI, sec. 1.


13 Calvin's Commentary, on Jer. 9:21-24 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1989), 9:398.

14 The phrase "inspiration of the Holy Spirit" does not mean that 
the early Presbyterians believed that their prayers were "God Breathed" 
and inerrant like the Scriptures. It simply means "with the help or 
aid of the Holy Spirit".

15 J. King Hewison, The Covenanters (Glasgow: 1908), 1:41-44.

16 Encyclopedia Britannica (1961 ed.), 5:643.

17 "Long before the fourth century, and long before the Christian era 
itself, a festival was celebrated among the heathen, at that precise time 
of the year, in honour of the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen 
of heaven; and it may be fairly presumed that, in order to conciliate 
the heathen, and to swell the numbers of the nominal adherents of 
Christianity, the same festival was adopted by the Roman Church, 
giving it only the name of Christ" (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons 
[Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, (1916)1943], p. 93).

18 Encyclopedia Britannica (1961 ed.), 6:623.

19 Ibid., 5:642. 

20 Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, (quoted in 
Encyclopedia Britannica, (1961 ed.), 5:643).

21 "The Saturnalia, like Christmas was a time for giving presents. Small 
dolls were a popular gift-though for an unpleasant reason. They 
commemorated a myth that Saturn ate all his male children at birth, 
to fulfill a pledge that he would die without heirs" (The United 
Church Observer, Santa's Family Tree, Dec. 1976, p. 14).

22 World Book Encyclopedia, (1955 ed.), 3:1425.

23 Encyclopedia Britannica, 5:643. 

24 G. Lambert, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975, 1976) 1:805.

25 George Gillespie, English Popish Ceremonies, (n.p., 1637), 
Part III, p.19.

26 Ibid., Part III, p. 35. 

27 Martin Bucer quoted in William Ames, A Fresh Suit Against 
Human Ceremonies in God's Worship, (n.p., 1633), p. 360.

28 Gillespie, p. 146. 

29 G. I. Williamson, On the Observance of Sacred Days, (Havertown: 
New Covenant Publication Society, n.d.), pp. 9-10.

30 "There is no day commanded in the scripture to be kept holy 
under the gospel but the Lord's day, which is the Christian Sabbath. 
Festival days, vulgarly called Holy-days, having no warrant in the 
Word of God, are not to be continued." (The Westminster Assembly, 
The Directory For the Publick Worship of God, 1645).

31 Ralph Woodrow, Babylon Mystery Religion, (Riverside: Ralph Woodrow 
Evangelistic Association, 1961), pp. 160-1.

32 Of course, the world loves puppy dogs, apple pie and baseball 
as well, but these hold no religious significance. They are not associated 
with Christ and are not religious ordinances.

33 John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1965,68), pp. 177-8.

34 Ibid., p. 257. 

35 Out of 24 commentaries consulted, only one entertained the possibility 
that these days were non-Judaical.

36 Murray, p. 178. 

37 In Gal. 4:10-11 and Col. 2:16-17, the observance of days is condemned 
by Paul because in these instances the celebration of days was connected 
with heresy. The situation at Rome was different. The days were kept 
because of a genuine misunderstanding. Heresy and ideas of 
works-righteousness were not involved.

38 Westminster Confession of Faith, (1647), chap. XXI, sec. 5, proof- text (a).

39 God's people are the church whether they meet in a church building, 
barn, park or house. When Christians gather together to hear the Word 
and worship God, it is the church meeting. It is public worship whether 
they meet at 7:00 a.m. or 11:00 p.m. Public worship must occur on the 
Lord's day, but that does not mean that public worship is limited to that 
day alone. The idea that teaching and worship at 10:00 a.m. is not public, 
but at 11:00 a.m. it is public is totally irrational and arbitrary. It is based 
on human tradition. If this imaginary line really existed between 10:59 a.m. 
and 11:00 a.m., then could not Reformed churches have two worship and 
teaching services each Lord's day? One could be run by women. The women 
could teach and lead. They could sing uninspired hymns and charismatic 
camp fire songs. They could burn incense and wear popish dress. They 
could have intricate popish liturgies, candles, bells, dance and so on. 
Then at 11:00 a.m. they could have "public worship" in which they 
have Psalm singing, preaching by men, etc. Those who arbitrarily set 
up a sphere of private worship in which human innovations are 
permitted have no recourse, on their own presuppositions, in which 
to avoid such bizarre dualities.

40 As noted earlier, Christmas is a monument to past and present idolatry; 
therefore, even apart from the regulative principle it is still wrong to 
celebrate it in the home, office, church, country club, and so on.

On the front cover:
Santa Claus as depicted by Thomas Nast in an 1879 issue of Harper's Weekly.

The Santa Claus myth of a fat, white bearded, jolly old man, who wears 
a red suit, lives at the North Pole,  makes toys for children, and 
distributes gifts to children all over the world at Christmas time, 
developed from the Roman Catholic veneration of Saint Nicholas. Nicholas 
was a real person who lived in the 3rd and 4th centuries in Asia Minor 
(Turkey). He became the Bishop of Myra and was apparently both generous 
and popular with the people for after his death various legends surrounding 
his life arose. Nicholas was declared the patron saint of children 
by the church. He was venerated (i.e., worshipped) yearly on December 
6 by both the Greek and Latin churches. "The celebration of St. 
Nicholas Day was important for a long time in the Low Countries and 
Rhine provinces; but the growing concentration of the winter festival 
on Christmas Day and the rise in importance of the Christmas tree 
during the last 200 years have caused the St. Nicholas customs to 
be absorbed into the Christmas celebration" (Encyclopedia 
Americana, (1953 ed.), 20:313).

What is particularly offensive about the Santa Claus mythology from 
a Christian perspective is the fact that the Divine attributes of 
omniscience and omnipresence are attributed to Santa Claus. The popular 
Christmas carol says: "He knows when you are sleeping; he knows 
if you're awake; he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for 
goodness sake." Santa knows what everyone in the whole world is 
doing, even in secret. He is portrayed as a coming judge and as having 
the ability personally to deliver gifts to over two billion children 
in a few hours. Thus what millions of professing Christians regard 
as harmless, innocent, and good for their children is nothing less 
than rank idolatry. The objection that "we know it's not true, 
therefore it's okay" is unscriptural. The Jews and Christians 
who were killed for not bowing the knee to idols knew that the false 
gods were mythological. Santa-god is a myth as are all false gods. 
Christians have no more business teaching their children to believe 
in Santa Claus than to believe in Molech, Ashteroth or Baal. 


The Regulative Principle of Worship

And Christmas

"...which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart."

"...God here cuts off from men every occasion for making evasions, 
since he condemns by this one phrase, "I have not commanded them," 
whatever the Jews devised. There is then no other argument needed 
to condemn superstitions, than that they are not commanded by God: 
for when men allow themselves to worship God according to their own 
fancies, and attend not to his commands, they pervert true religion. 
And if this principle was adopted by the Papists, all those fictitious 
modes of worship, in which they absurdly exercise themselves, would 
fall to the ground. It is indeed a horrible thing for the Papists 
to seek to discharge their duties towards God by performing their 
own superstitions. There is an immense number of them, as it is well 
known, and as it manifestly appears. Were they to admit this principle, 
that we cannot rightly worship God except by obeying his word, they 
would be delivered from their deep abyss of error. The Prophet's words 
then are very important, when he says, that God had commanded no such 
thing, and that it never came to his mind; as though he had said, that men 
assume too much wisdom, when they devise what he never 
required, nay, what he never knew."

--John Calvin, Commentary on Jeremiah 7:31

Copyright © Brian Schwertley, Lansing, Michigan, 1996
Used by Permission.

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